Experiences of Past Winners

Wonca Europe, Berlin 2020 (virtual conference)

Piotr Kudłacz

COVID-19 pandemic- this is the reason we couldn't meet this year in Berlin for the WONCA Conference. Hard-working Host Organizing Committee - this is the reason the Conference happened virtually. Thanks to them, their commitement and work in times when all the healthcare workers are overwhelmed, we could all meet together again. Thanks to VdGM bursary I could be there too. I listened to plenty of interesting lectures, I participated in workshops (and in one case as a co-host) and I discussed about presented posters. Some of these virtual meetings made me feel strenghten and more secure - again as a family doctors we were together and could support each other to face our daily challenges in these weird times. Ways of tackling problems in different countries can be very creative and this can give bigger perspective to the way we work. I was collecting inspiring stories and I believe at least some of them I will manage to implement in place where I work. The other advantage of having the Conference virtual is that I can come back to interesting recording and look at these I couldn't watch during the Conference days. To say nothing about the fact that you can stay during the conference in your pyjama (unless camera needs to be on:)
Exchanging experiences, thoughts, ideas and solutions as well as emotions is the way to normalize the situation in which all of us - healthcare workers - happen to be. Situation that requires being together and staying strong. This meeting, despite its virtual form, provided me with these needed resources, more than I expected.

Gintarė Trepėnaitytė

Let me start off by saying how much I wish I’d had the opportunity to participate in a live version of WONCA Europe conference and (especially) the Vasco da Gama pre-conference. I sincerely hope I will still get to do it in the future. In the meantime, I would like to thank the Vasco da Gama movement for the chance to get a glimpse of what this experience would be like – and even though an online version is far from the real deal, I could still feel that the ambience and the inspiration that these events bring is spectacular.
Firstly, I was really honoured to participate in the pre-conference by VdGM. Having been in various medical students’ associations myself, I appreciated the more interactive part, as well as meeting my fellow junior doctors from different countries. I sincerely hope we’ll be able to meet up in the future and make even more connections. I believe sharing experiences on how we handle things in different countries is a crucial part of progress and improvement.
Secondly, it was absolutely mesmerizing to listen to the speeches given by true experts in and around the field of Family Medicine. The topics of patient-centeredness, having a broad mind and approach of dealing with patients have always interested me. The importance of primary care in the strength and sustainability of our health systems has always been apparent to us, however it showed up even more obviously in the light of the last year’s pandemic – a topic that has also been broadly discussed in this year’s conference.
Even though I probably didn’t get to scratch even the surface of what the live conference would be, I still learned a lot and gained a ton of motivation to continue working in my field. There was a quote that has stuck in my head since the very first day of the conference: “More specialized medicine does not equal healthier societies”. And I stand by this quote – I believe we, future or present family physicians, should always remember this and never underestimate the importance of the role we play in our health systems. We should strive for an even better quality of our work, as well as better working conditions and better system preparedness. And please WONCA and VdGM, keep up the great work and keep inspiring young doctors like me to strive for change and advancement!

Jolanta Mękarska

On 16th of December 2020 I attended the virtual WONCA European Conference and
Preconference which continued until 19th of December.
This was the best conference in which I participated, prepared by family practitioners especially for GP's and medical professionals from around the World. It was inspiring, involving, full of positivity. We looked beyond treating disease, focused on the way to deliver holistic care without exclusion of vulnerable patients and satisfy the needs of their families and partners. Many of the projects and presentations were focusing on education, self-development of doctors, encouraging students and young doctors to get involved in research in the field of family medicine. There was an amazing choice of interactive workshops- from dermatscopy techniques, family medicine in multicultural society discussions, and strategies of writing scientific papers. Partcipants introduced innovative ideas, technologies like apps, call lines, and other aspects of telemedicine to overcome language problems, communications and distance barriers to improve and deliver better medical help.
Understandably, many presented topics were touching on subjects such as wellbeing and time management as an important part of everyday doctor's routine to enjoy a life and work balance, and become a more enthusiastic, caring professional.
The unforgettable part of Wonca 2020 event was Preconference, with virtual visits to family practices in 3 regions of Germany. This was a great introduction to the German health system. WONCA is much more than a medical conference. It is a welcoming community of doctors and health care providers, with insights into modern medicine and human nature. It was a celebration of Family Medicine. If a virtual meeting can bring so much positivity, I'm looking forward to the virtual meeting in
Amsterdam WONCA 2021 and cannot wait to meet in London WONCA 2022.

Karyna Uvarova

My participation in the European Conference for Family Doctors was both a great surprise and extreme benefit for me. When I got an email suggesting to send an application form for the reimbursement of such participation from VdGM movement, I just decided to take this chance without any confidence, but with a slight hope. And...on the day previously assigned I got the reply about me being chosen among other 3 participants! I was excited, because I have wanted to take part in a WONCA conference long time ago. Thank you, VdGM, for this opportunity to try my luck.

Now about the event itself. It was a pre-conference held by VdGM that preceeded the main conference. I thought it would be just as a formality, but it turned totally different. The organisers made it possible to get to know the Movement closer and, furthermore, they arranged several sessions with discussions of several hot topics in Family Medicine practice between the participants. And this final online dance with all the pre-conference participants, it was so cute and necessary in these hard times!

Before writing about the Conference I would like to say several words about the organisation and techical issues of all this.
Guys who help with getting into the connection moments and with solving some essential technical problems, you were of such a great help! Thank you kindly for your time and quick replies via email! You made my participation such a valuable and memorable experience!

The main Conference itself was organized perfectly - several halls with vital subjects for the presentations given by famous and respected medical professionals, cool workshops with the possibility to participate in them, properly arranged section where e-posters of the presenters could be viewd. It was my first experience of participation in a conference of such a magnitude and I was very pleased with the outcomes. So much useful and practically oriented information. Besides I can say the same as above-mentioned about the technical organisation of the event - it was greatly arranged.

Finally I would like to thank both VdGM and WONCA for such a pleasure I have got after these amazing four educational days. I hope that next time I will present my own investigations to such a respected audience. And to your organizations I wish the prosperity and expansion of your influnce around the globe!

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