Case Study - GoWest

A Festival of Medical Curiosity

Executive Summary

dotMD, is a celebration of the future and heart of medicine, bridging scientific advances with artistic elements. This festival of curiosity is curated by Dr. Ronan Kavanagh, Dr. Muiris Houston and Dr Alan Cross, with Go West Conference & Event Management as conference organisers (PCO) for this innovative and creative medical conference. dotMD which has been called “the Electric Picnic” of medical conferences has a unique programme which features international writers, musicians, and artists in addition to Doctors and Scientists.

dotMD began its journey in 2012 as a one-day event with 120 delegates.  dotMD has gone from strength to strength to a 2-day event attended by 500 delegates in 2019.  dotMD sells out each year and operates a waiting list.  In 2022, dotMD will continue to grow and expand its reach and audience as a hybrid event attracting delegates from around the world.

Programme and Content

dotMD, a winner of The Irish Health Awards Best Education Event, explores the interface between medicine, the humanities and culture – and in doing so, shines a light on the art, heart, and future of medicine.

Topics previously explored include literature, art, photography, poetry, rap, comedy, storytelling, technology, burnout, Buddhism and undertaking.

Previous speakers have included Samuel Shem, author of The House of God (Shem describes dotMD as the best meeting he has taken part in), medical writers Danielle Ofri, Suzanne O’Sullivan and Rachel Clarke, Rapping doctor ZDoggMD, Irish writers Kevin Barry and Sinéad Gleeson, and Undertaker and essayist Thomas Lynch.

In 2019 the 2-day programme featured:

  • 23 Speakers from Ireland, Canada, USA and UK
  • Keynote Talks, Panel Discussions & Interviews
  • Musical performances by a Pianist, Jazz Quartet, DJ, and Barbershop Choir
  • Cartoon Exhibition
  • Meet the Speakers Reception with refreshments and entertainment
  • Parallel Workshop with Award winning author Colm McCann
  • Sponsor Exhibits
  • Volunteer Programme
  • Scholarships
  • Bookshop
  • dotMD BBQ and Party
  • Post conference ‘Meet the Speakers’ wine and canapé reception with Barbershop Choir
  • Speakers Dinner in a private venue

The programme was approved for CPD by the Irish College of General Practitioners

Sponsorship & Exhibition

Unlike other medical conferences, dotMD does not feature a large exhibition area with sponsor and exhibitor booths. Instead, the conference venue features creative spaces for a bookshop to host book signings by dotMD authors and speakers, a ceramic display and a graphic art exhibition.  Every opportunity is offered to delegates to mingle and network with each other and enjoy an impromptu performance.

dotMD goes Green

In 2019 dotMD introduced a number of initiatives to minimise the environmental impact of conference.  The key initiatives implemented were:

Venue chosen – NUI Galway ‌NUI Galway’s vision is to become a top-class green, smart and healthy campus

Conference App – Replaced a detailed printed programme and schedule.  .

Menus featured locally sourced produce and vegetarian options.

Sustainable Conference Pack

Certs of Attendance were not printed they were issued to delegates via email.

Ticketless event.  Delegates were registered using event software.  Delegates received confirmation of their registration via email which they then had on their phones for registration.

Delegate Feedback

The profile of attendees ranged from Consultants, GP’s, Anaesthetists, Dentist, Doctors, Educators, Emergency Medicine Specialist, Endocrinologist, Forensic, Pathologists, Gastroenterologist, Journalists, Neurologist, Nurses, Pediatrician, Public Health Medicine Registrars, Physiotherapists, Radiologists and Medical Students. Feedback from delegates is extremely positive.
"An amazing experience. Many of the talks stayed with me for days after"
"A powerful platform that left it’s attendees regardless of stage or speciality, thoroughly reinvigorated and re-inspired"
Final-Year Medical Student
"It gets u thinking outside the box - coolest conference around. Great break from the mundane! Great occasion to network with similar minded docs"
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