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Reflective Thoughts

by Chris Kidson

On behalf of ‘Team Scotland’ I would like to share the development of our conference, a few of our thoughts and wishes for everyone, and to extend an early informal welcome given our growing excitement as hosts.


Upon receiving the invitation to host this year’s conference over a year ago, there was never any doubt that our units and personnel were going to combine. We pride ourselves on operating as a united family and from the onset wished to celebrate Scotland’s strengths and contribution. All the logistics have been mutually shared, ideas equally brain-stormed, the work divided.


One of the many attractions that makes Scotland so inviting is the sense of camaraderie – the inherent respect that we hold for each other. In April 2014, Glasgow’s strapline famously became ‘People Make Glasgow’ and I believe this could equally be ‘People make Scotland’. The genuine warmth, friendship and welcoming hospitality of the nation is more infectious and has greater power than Covid’s destructive influence. You are about to experience this embrace for yourselves!


We all work in multi-disciplinary teams of supra-specialist experts: we all have enduring special interests which I assert must be inherently respected, as our patients and their families must inherently trust us? I would encourage every unit to acknowledge the specialism contained within. The issue then becomes how to connect with each other’s specialism and communicate learned advice effectively and efficiently. 


It is with genuine pride that I salute the contribution my great friend and colleague Dr Neil Spenceley continues to make to patient safety. I marry his wisdom and teachings with showcasing the ‘Every Thank You Counts’ principle founded by two of our families that attends to the human qualities of dignity, compassion, kindness and care. The warmth and perceived generosity of receiving a mere ‘thank you’ promotes positive communication, trust and mutual respect. This in turn promotes strengthened connections: with ourselves, with each other, with the patients and their families, with medical technology, with historical lessons and experience, with research. Our realtime ability to access the best of the best within us enhances all of us to deliver the art of medicine to our vulnerable patients and their families in their time of greatest emotional trauma and need. We must communicate to connect all our concerns, all our learning, all our expertise, all our passion. Hence our strapline ‘communicate to connect’, and the quotation marks to symbolise that the most effective form of communication is verbal. In December 2019 our national organ donation campaign was to ‘have a wee chat’.


There was little to choose between the cities, but the purpose-built venue in the hub of learning at Edinburgh University was to clinch the decision. We explored Dr Jillian MacFadzean’s coffer of historical knowledge of the city, and her influential prowess blossomed as conversation flowed: We learnt of the significance of the Rowan tree: even the font of the quotation marks is a historical nod of respect to Edinburgh’s architectural magnificence. The colour mapping has been carefully selected. Our extended PICU family could all be together in a historical city of pride and cultural charm. 


The gem to the logical progressive development of our conference, like a finally tuned athlete in training destined to peak on a special day, was to hone the constellation of enviable skills of Dr Zoltan Gyorgyi: a few effortless caresses of a keyboard, guided by a wealth of experience, the computer obeys its master, and our website was produced. But it would all become too chaotic without an excel spreadsheet, the organisational skills and weekly questions of Dr Lindsay Ford: our accountant, our secretary, our code breaker. The ‘in-box’ became a debating chamber to home the dialogue with our conference organisers: Mercedes and Tracy.


‘Mission Impossible? Never - executed by a multi-layer connected team’. Early in the evolution we identified a team whose unique synergistic skills were destined to produce a conference worthy of the surroundings in which it will be delivered.


Every decision regarding our program was deliberately written with our strapline in mind. Our short sessions are to allow for audience participation via our QR code to post real-time questions. This is key and promotes the idea that perhaps we learn as much from informal chat with each other as we do listening to formal presentations? The frequent comfort breaks are to maximise opportunities to continue a conversation sparked by attendance at one of our sessions, to either interface with industry or our organ donation partners, or merely catch up with colleagues.


And this brings us seamlessly onto our many social events. We have arranged a formal civic reception and a conference dinner, and to be balanced have organised a morning run or bicycle-ride for those who wish to blow away the night before and interact with the Scottish scenery, maybe even the weather! If you chose to independently explore Edinburgh, the venue is within the city centre where all your needs will be catered.


We hope that our conference will feel different, vibrant, and promote subliminal learning from each other as we ‘communicate to connect’ in the wake of an awful world of restrictions and unfamiliar social distancing. We have attracted record breaking numbers, beyond the guiding expectation of PCCS, having to hold and eventually close, a waiting list. Communities are founded upon social interaction and our paediatric critical care community will similarly flourish if we nurture our inherent sociability.


We hope that we will stimulate thought, reflection, and closeness of contact so that everyone will cherish personal memories. Thank you for your time: a fun environment is a learning environment!

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