Yes, four months out from this year’s Gundy Medical Muster organisers realised they’d have to ‘pivot’ in a big way if the conference was to go ahead, but after committing to the mantra ‘the Muster must go on’ there was no turning back.
On Saturday 12 September 95 delegates (GPs, junior doctors, registrars, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals) got comfortable in front of their laptops and PCs in locations across the State, as well as beyond, to log on for the first virtual muster.
While it wasn’t the same as being in Goondiwindi, the rural border town nestled on the banks of the Macintyre River which plays host to the conference every two years, learning, networking and fun was still the order of the day.
Delegates participated in a packed four-hour conference program made up of medical lectures, panel sessions, presentations and some conference networking components with a new spin (one session was titled ‘Chat Roulette’).
Goondiwindi GP Dr Matt Masel, a key member on the planning committee, said aside from a few tense moments before the conference’s keynote address (the techs had a tricky time establishing a secure internet connection with National Rural Health Commissioner Professor Ruth Stewart as she travelled between islands on the Torres Strait) the virtual Muster went off without a hitch.
“The logistics of hosting the conference online was a big learning curve for us, but we did it and delegate feedback has been resoundingly positive,” Dr Masel said.
“Some highlights were the lighter ‘chat’ sessions where delegates were able to interact with each other. These sessions were particularly valuable for students and registrars,” he said.
“Another winner was our rural health forum, where delegates got the chance to pose questions to our panel of rural health leaders.”
The Gundy Medical Muster has been running since 2008, bringing health professionals with an interest in rural health and their families together for a weekend in the country that balances professional development and networking with good old fashioned fun.
A 1.5 day educational program (lectures, panel sessions, medical simulations) runs in tandem with a family program (cooking and art classes, face painting, gymnastics and more) to allow delegates, along with their partners and children to be involved in the conference.
The Muster is also held on the same weekend in September the town hosts the Goondiwindi Food and Wine Festival, giving attendees the opportunity to explore award winning food and wine from throughout the region.
“The conference has really evolved over the years,” Dr Masel said.
“It is all about connecting and learning from each other. Sharing ideas, gaining exposure to various aspects of rural medicine and even coming up with solutions to issues like service delivery in rural communities,” he said.
Muster benefits for junior doctors & registrars
If you are a junior doctor or registrar the Gundy Medical Muster really is a ‘must-do’ event.
- Attendance will normally contribute towards your training hours
- Network with established rural GPs
- Network with other junior doctors & registrars
- Benefit from the registrar-focused elements in the conference educational program, designed by established rural registrars.