MD Student Conference: "by the students, for the students"

What happens when you pass complete responsibility of an entire university subject to a handful of medical students? The Doctor of Medicine’s Student Conference (MDSC). The ultimate embodiment of the mantra “by the students, for the students”.

MD Student Conference

The Melbourne MD Student Conference (MDSC) is a four-day event held each year in the last week of June at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Boasting a bold and diverse program, the conference is completely student run, and connects over 250 local and international presenters with the entire 1400 student body of the Melbourne Medical School. 11 months in the making, MDSC 2018 was compiled by a team of 18 current MD students, supported by an organising team of over 100 peers. And in entrusting these students with complete autonomy, from keynote speakers to catering menus, the Melbourne Medical School proved that having confidence in their students is an empowering quality.

This year’s student conference invited students to explore four distinct academic themes that tend to receive less attention in the traditional medical curriculum but hold undeniable importance. The first, Our Medical Community, exposed the good, the bad and the ugly of medicine in Australia today. From gender pay gaps to clinician mental health and unconventional career success, no topic was too delicate to be left undiscussed. Students were then captivated by the world of indigenous Australia in Temporary Mobility, including a keynote address from Thomas Mayor, a pivotal founder of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Defining a Patient followed, allowing students to appreciate the great diversity amongst the patients they will soon be treating. With presentations from cultural and advocacy groups across all sectors of society, the day concluded with an inspiring keynote address from Dylan Alcott, Australian Paralympian and multi-gold medallist. The final day of the academic program, The Jaw Drop, was a glimpse into the future of healthcare, quite literally. Amongst the array of up-and-coming treatments and technologies presented to students was a live demonstration of NeuroNode by founder Peter Ford, with the conference’s final keynote an interview with palliative care physician and triple amputee BJ Miller by the Faculty’s Dean, Professor Shitij Kapur.

Alongside the academic program, MDSC 2018 boasted a strong student wellbeing presence. With the goal of nurturing students’ physical and mental wellbeing, activities such as yoga and cupcake decorating introduced mindfulness into the MD curriculum. MDSC again provided an opportunity for all fourth-year students to display their recently completed research via poster displays, with a number of brave students also presenting three-minute summaries of their works. And an undeniable highlight to most students was the largest ever workshops program, this year delving beyond the suture to teach students innovative skills, including a simulated in-flight health emergency in Is There a Doctor Onboard? As MDSC grows each year, the Melbourne Medical School can be proud of the professional level event it’s students create.