July 2016 - Clare Langan, RCPsych Pathfinder Fellow and student associate
20 July, 2016
International Congress: a Pathfinder Fellow's perspective
The Royal College of Psychiatrists held its long-established International Congress in the ExCeL International Convention Centre in London in at the end of June. Spanning over 4 days, with hundreds of lectures from countless distinguished speakers giving talks based on this year’s theme of ‘Brain, Body and Mind’ and around 3000 international delegates in attendance, the sheer scale and scope of the Congress was hugely impressive and very exciting to be a part of.
Day 1 of the Congress kicked off with a key note lecture from President of the College, Professor Sir Simon Wessely who discussed some of the challenges psychiatry as a specialty faced. This was followed by a lecture from the highly eminent winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine Professor Sir John O’Keefe who discussed the function of the hippocampus as a cognitive map. As a final year medical student who is extremely interested in psychiatry, I am still shocked to find that psychiatrists and their patients are often stigmatised by other doctors and students within the medical profession. I thus chose to attend a parallel session exploring recruitment of medical students into psychiatry and the innovative strategies which have been developed in order to maximise recruitment into this fascinating and constantly evolving speciality. Finally, the day closed with an extremely memorable discussion on Scientology and psychiatry.
The remaining 3 days of the Congress continued to be as interesting and diverse as the first. Particular highlights for me included lectures on concussion and CTE, an area of neuropsychiatry which is becoming increasingly controversial and gaining greater recognition in the public domain as a result of its recent portrayal in the film Concussion. Other highlights included discussions on functional disorders in neurology and a conversation with the comedian Jo Brand to name but a few.
The International Congress was a hugely stimulating and fascinating experience and is something I thoroughly enjoyed. The sheer variety and breadth of the Congress and the findings discussed at various research presentations emphasised that there has never been a more exciting time to be a psychiatrist and confirms psychiatry’s place at the forefront of medicine.
Royal College of Psychiatrists Pathfinder Fellow & Student Associate