Lecturing to the back row

I received a flyer today about a meeting in London, 'Latest thinking!' trumpeted the headline, 'Top Specialists!' and then, inexplicably: 'Opportunities for Net-working!' What would be next: 'Let's do lunch?'

When I was a lad, things were a lot simpler: postgraduate education for example. A drug company would organise a meeting and we would go along for the free food and drink and happily nod off during the lecture. Lectures were invariably given by consultants, who considered us idiots and lower down the food chain than maggots, and the content was totally impractical and unrealistic as well as unabashedly promotional.

If the drug company was impecunious, we sometimes had the unpleasant experience of being patronised by a registrar, but occasionally a real star would appear in our grubby firmament; a professor, or even better an 'Emeritus' professor (I still don't know what 'Emeritus' actually means; on the basis of the lectures.

I attended it probably translates as 'boring old fart' or 'can't get a proper job,' or 'every other consultant in the hospital is a real professor and they made me one so as not to hurt my feelings').

The consultants talked down to us, the drugs reps shamelessly manipulated us, but at least we knew where we stood.

Now it's all different and confusing. I go to a lecture and find other GPs (yes, other GPs) up on the podium, giving the by now mandatory Powerpoint presentation. Although we know that the speaker is just the 'token' GP we still find it offensive and unsettling. 'Who do they think they are?' we mutter to each other, 'They're no better than the rest of us, when does the free bar open?'

Even worse, the meetings are now participative and interactive, so we can't have a nap in the back row. At one, the upstart of a lecturer had the nerve to go walkabout, interrogating the audience with easy confidence about the content, and eventually coming round to me.

'What is the importance of the glomerular filtration rate?' he asked me, flashing a condescending smile, like a cheap daytime TV talk show host.

But I'd seen him coming, knowing him for the cheeky pup he was, and had my answer well prepared and my cronies well primed.

'Look, buddy,' I said, 'You're the one being paid to answer questions, not me. If you really don't know,' I continued, as my cronies sniggered gratifyingly in the background, 'look it up on Wikipedia.'

Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh.

Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs to place orders for COVID-19 vaccine as NHS targets second dose at 12 weeks, says Stevens

GPs to place orders for COVID-19 vaccine as NHS targets second dose at 12 weeks, says Stevens

GP-led vaccination sites will be able to place orders for COVID-19 vaccine supplies...

RCGP and Marie Curie urge GPs to adopt end of life care standards for care homes

RCGP and Marie Curie urge GPs to adopt end of life care standards for care homes

Best practice standards to help GPs improve end of life care in care homes despite...

Thank your team for their inspirational work during the COVID-19 pandemic #myGPteam

Thank your team for their inspirational work during the COVID-19 pandemic #myGPteam

Never has teamwork in general practice been more important than during the COVID-19...

BMA mourns 'dark death toll' as UK passes 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

BMA mourns 'dark death toll' as UK passes 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

More than 100,000 people have now died from COVID-19 in the UK, five times the death...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

Viewpoint: End-of-life care in care homes goes well beyond COVID-19

Viewpoint: End-of-life care in care homes goes well beyond COVID-19

Best practice standards for GPs and teams caring for older people in care homes -...