The deadly pandemic, COVID-19 that has been instrumental in the lockdown of almost all major programs and activities around the world, could not lockdown the creative minds of young Medical Professionals in India. The lockdown due to COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of all the conferences that were planned this year, disheartening the medical students who work all year long to get a chance to present their work and learn from their colleagues. Taking the lockdown and the social isolation as a challenge, the organizing committee of WEB MEDQUEST has come up with this idea of conducting a full-fledged conference online.
An all-inclusive conference virtually, including keynote speeches, workshops, Medical MUN Case/Paper presentations, Literary and cultural events, and whatnot was organized from May 15t to 18th, 2020 and was attended by over 12,000 live participants from India, the United States and from around the world.
Shubham Anand, Snigdha Sharma, Shubhika Jain and Samarth Goyal have set an example that hardwork and dedication can do wonders like organizing a full-fledged conference from scratch in a little over a month.
A brainchild of the four medical undergraduates students proved many things, including the fact that a simple spark can be fanned into flames when it’s a question of teamwork. In their quest of doing something out of the box, the conference also introduced an online Model UN session. The exceptional leadership and coordination has made webmedquest 2020, India’s first conference with different associations on one platform.
“Web Medquest is India’s first and biggest online medical conference conducted in India with over 12,000 registrations including undergraduates, interns and postgraduates,” said Shubham Anand, Organizing Chairman, WEB MEDQUEST. A plethora of events like cultural, literary, academic and games to name some were conducted efficiently over the 4 days span.
Describing the origins of the first ever such conference, Anand says, “It all began like a simple “jumanji board” lying in one corner and became a full scale adventure of sorts. It took birth about a month and a half ago in a rather informal conversation between acquaintances, in the throes of the ongoing pandemic, it seemed a rather solid thought to conduct one virtually.”
Realizing that “Learning happens everywhere, not just in the classrooms,” Anand and his colleagues set out on a dream project. The idea of bedside teaching was introduced in the spring of ’90s which was then called “scientific medicine” and later modified to be termed as “evidence-based medicine.
Since the advent of evidence-based medicine, sharing ideas all over the world has become more important than ever. Undergraduate Medical conferences are one such means to inculcate this idea of sharing knowledge in young budding medicos.
India itself witnesses many such conferences all year round. But the lockdown due to COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of all the conferences that were planned this year, disheartening the students who work all year long to get a chance to present their work and learn from their colleagues.
Consisting of eminent and reputed speakers from across the world who had shared their knowledge and enlightened the delegates with new advances in their field of practice. Scientific events such as Poster Presentations, Case Presentations and Research Presentations brought out the best from the medical students from hundreds of Medical Schools from across India. The webinars consisted of UNESCO Bioethics seminar, USMLE/PLAB orientation and an enlightening Seminar on “Mental health and productivity during quarantine.”
Workshops on Research methodology, Communication skills, Artificial intelligence in healthcare, and Diabetes care were very informative and provided new perspectives to the thousands of participants from around the world. Medical quiz, including Pre-clinical quiz, Para-clinical quiz and Clinical quiz were a challenge to the best of the minds.
India’s first ever Model United Nations conducted for medical students had everts such as, Literary events, Creative Writing – “Catharsis,” Debate – “Depolarize,” and E- Poster- “Art-pIECe. The cultural extravaganza with brilliant Dance – “Dance Battle,” Singing – “Dhwani,” Instrumental solo – “Thunder beat,” and Paintography were a treat to the souls and hearts of all participants, showcasing the creative talents of the medical students.
Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), which is a collaborating partner in organizing the event, in his keynote address, spoke about “Atychiphobia and Serendipity.” Quoting from world renowned leaders, he spoke about the “Fear of Failure Phobia.” He said, “Normal amount of doubt regarding success in certain project, relationships or examinations is usually present in most people. However, when the fear of failure takes on an extreme form then it is termed as Atychiphobia,” he said.
Dr. Ravi Kolli, Secretary of AAPI and a Board Certified Psychiatrist, in his address, highlighted the challenges the medical students are facing at the very crucial stage of their psycho social and brain development and how it can negatively affect them. He explained the scientific rationale and the benefits of various coping mechanisms including, mindfulness cultivating optimism, emotional intelligence, yoga, exercise proper nutrition, sleep hygiene as well as value of social connections and gratitude and spirituality in combating the harmful effects of chronic stress and challenges.
“I am proud to have the younger generation as mentor,” said Dr. Lokesh Edara, a keynote speaker and Chair of AAPI’s Education Committee. “Shubham Anand is a mentor to us on how to conduct a webmedquest.” Lauding the creativity and the organizing skills of Medical Students from India, he said, “Students in India are brilliant and they are lucky to excellent faculty. We need some changes in medical education. These debates will results in change in medical education so every doctor nurse paramedics in India graduate equal to the ones in the US and other developed countries. I like our students to present their issues on nationwide panel discussions in digital platforms and thus help change the medical system in India. I wish them success in delivering high quality of health to all citizens of India or wherever they choose to settle,” Dr. Edara added.
On “Overcoming the Fear of Failure” Dr. Reddy suggested that “Some simple things you can do that will make you become more comfortable with risk-taking. To make a breakthrough you have to be willing to make mistakes,” he told them. “Make as many mistakes as you need to learn. Failure is a strengthening process. Success is going from ‘Failure to Failure’ with great enthusiasm. Make Failure Respectable. There is no sure thing as ‘failure.’ It is only an event on the learning curve – UNLESS you do not learn from the event,” Dr. Reddy told the 12,000 delegates at the highly successful 1st ever webmedquest.