Thinking about life during “open days” when conferences were face-to-face events

After four months of lockdown in Auckland, it’s strange to rethink the National Conference on Rural Health, held at the Wairakei Resort in Taupō earlier this year.

This was the first in-person event in well over 18 months and in the previous two months we had already had two Alert Level 3 crossings in Auckland. So, walking into the conference room on April 29 to see so many familiar faces, it was weird and a bit nostalgic.

The conference opened with a pōwhiri, a moving awards ceremony, and ended with the annual general meeting of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, which saw the highest attendance of members.

They hugged, laughed and talked, sharing their war stories from the year which brought a slew of new acronyms: COVID-19, CBAC, and PPE, along with the prospect of major reforms.

Almost two weeks later there was the 2021 New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards | He Tohu Mauri Ora at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland.

Like New Zealand doctor Rata Aotearoa Journalist Alan Perrott wrote: “You could have run the national grid with the energy that was buzzing with the 660 or so attendees at the ceremony. There was aroha in the air of the loud crowd who laughed, danced, clapped and cried all evening.

Then it was time for the New Zealand doctor team to attend Rotorua GP CME in June. Last year, the global pandemic forced organizers to hold both the GP CME and its southern counterpart as virtual events. The GP21 conference of the RNZCGP has just opened to reach the beginning of August.

It was a big blow when, once again, the South GP CME had to be made virtual with just two days to go due to the Delta outbreak in Auckland on August 17th.

The most recent lockdown saw both the Practice Managers and Administrators Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Women in Medicine conferences postponed.

Both groups hope to hold their events in 2022.

About Stephen Arrington

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