Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

EMWA conference in Nice, day 1

I'm typing this from my hotel room at the EMWA conference in Nice, as the first full day of the conference draws to a close.

The journey here yesterday afternoon did not go smoothly, but at least I got here in the end, and I resisted the temptation to send any tweets about blowing up Heathrow Airport to vent my frustration with the delays. I was just in time for the opening lectures, the first given by Helen Baldwin, former EMWA president and British expat living near Nice, about life as a medical writer in the south of France. It sounds lovely. The second was given by EMWA's resident language guru, Alistair Reeves, about why sensible people write daft things. It was thoroughly entertaining, as well as surprisingly educational. A good start to the conference. Rounded the evening off with a trip to the old town for dinner with some friends, always a pleasure to catch up.

This morning began with a plenary lecture on work-life balance and time management. Ironically, it over-ran, so I had to leave before the end to make sure I was ready for the workshop I was teaching. It was a new workshop, on ANOVA and regression analysis, destined for the EMWA advanced curriculum. I was, on the whole, quite pleased with how it went: no-one fell asleep, no-one left before the end, no-one threw anything, and I think one or two people may even have learnt something. One of the exercises was less successful than the other, so I may need to rethink that one next time. I guess that's why EMWA has a policy of not counting workshops for credit towards professional development certificates the first time they're run, just so little teething troubles like that can be fixed.

I chatted to one of the participants in the coffee break, who said that she'd been on a similar course last year, which hadn't made much sense, but now it was all starting to fall into place and she felt she was really starting to understand it. I don't think that necessarily means my course was any better than the one she'd been to before. It's just that statistics can be a tricky subject to grasp, and sometimes you need to hear something more than once, perhaps in different ways, before it finally makes sense. Maybe other participants in the workshop will have gone away baffled, but will nonetheless be better placed to learn when they next go to a statistics course.

I wasn't teaching this afternoon, so I was able to catch up on some emails, and was also absolutely delighted to see that the hashtag #IAmSpartacus was the top trending topic on Twitter. It was very depressing to see the crazy guilty verdict in the Twitter Joke Trial yesterday, but the #IAMSpartacus hashtag really restored my faith in human nature. Truly heartwarming stuff.

The hotel that the conference is taking place in is on the seafront, a little way away from the centre of Nice, and luckily I had enough time after checking my emails to go for a really delightful run along the seafront as far as the harbour and back again. It's a truly beautiful bit of scenery.

Well, the official parts of the conference have finished for today, but I'll be off for dinner soon with some good friends. Medical writers are a friendly bunch, and many of the people I know from EMWA conferences have become very good friends over the years. Dinner should be thoroughly enjoyable.

Tomorrow morning I'll be teaching again, this time on basic concepts of clinical study design. Then back home tomorrow afternoon.

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