During the International Conference on Emergency Medicine (ICEM 2019), The Geriatric Emergency Medicine Special Interest Group used a novel approach to introducing colleagues to key concepts in the sub-specialty – the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Marketplace.
What is the marketplace?
The Marketplace is a concept first developed by the IFEM Paediatric Emergency Medicine Special Interest Group as a means of allowing conference delegates hands-on interactions with topic experts in their specialty.
The Marketplace consists of a small number of ‘stalls’, in which subject matter experts present content on a well defined area of importance to delegates within the specialty. For example , our recent marketplace contained stalls on triage in older people, femoral nerve block, risk stratification of older people and the use of simulation in GEM, among others.
Delegates are invited to wander through the marketplace and choose which stalls to visit. They then spend around 10 minutes with the stallholder learning about the topic, asking questions and getting a clearer understanding of the topic. The setting is informal and the groups are small (ranging from 2 to about 6 people at a time). This allows for maximum access to the stall holders, as well as a very personalised approach to learning.
How was the marketplace organised?
Despite its informal layout and apparently relaxed approach to learning, the marketplace took almost a year of planning to ensure smooth and successful delivery at the conference. The main steps in organisation included:
1)Appointment of an organising committee
One year in advance of the marketplace (at ICEM 2018), an organising committee was appointed. The team was small (four people) and consisted of a strong leader and members willing to do the work. Interestingly, geographic closeness was not a necessity; members were from four different time zones, spanning 13 hours.
2) Deciding on topic
The committee’s first task was to decide topics suitable for the marketplace. During initial brainstorming, 15 topics were chosen. We chose topics that we believed would be relevant to the day to day practice of conference delegates, bearing in mind that they would be predominately general Emergency Physicians who were unlikely to have expertise in Geriatric Emergency Medicine. Topics also had to be amenable to the marketplace small teaching set up and that lent themselves to practical demonstration and small group discussion. Of the 15 topics initially identified, 10 were ultimately chosen for the marketplace.
3) Choosing Stallholders
Suitable stallholders were then identified for each stall. The aim was to have two stallholders per stall. In some instances the subject expert was approached by the organising committee (for example, Michael Bullard for Triage), while in others the GEMSIG membership were invited to volunteer to host the stalls. Once chosen, each stallholder was provided with a brief description of what the marketplace was and how the stalls should be organised and run. In addition, stallholders were asked to provide the organisers with a list or requirements for their stall.
4) At the conference
Early liaison with the local organising committee was essential for success. A suitable venue was identified and basic requirements (including tables, chairs, poster boards and electrical outlets) were arranged. The marketplace was actively advertised during the conference at plenary sessions and by the distribution of flyers. The day before the marketplace, the stallholders met to view the spaces allocated and on the morning of the event, each stallholder set up their stall.
During the marketplace, the organisers were not involved in any of the individual stalls. They were there to ensure the event ran smoothly and to attract conference participants to join the event.
How was the marketplace received?
Overall, the marketplace was well received by participants. We estimate that, during the 2 hour period, approximately 150 people visited the marketplace and participated in various stalls.
Participants were generally positive in their feedback, citing the interactive nature of the stalls, the variety of topics on offer and the opportunity to talk to subject experts face to face.
The stallholders also thought the marketplace was a success, particularly as it allowed them to meet with delegates on a more informal and personal level, to discuss areas of GEM that were of importance to both. All agreed that the marketplace was an intense experience and required a lot of energy and commitment, and a high degree of pre-planning for success.
Lessons learnt and future plans
The team learned that careful pre-planning and liaison with the local organising committee was essential to success. In addition, the amount of work required should not be under-estimated and the dedication of individual stall holders was important. A minimum of two stallholders per stall is essential for the success of each stall.
Handouts and signs in different languages would have been beneficial, and possibly a different structure (u shaped) would have worked better. Heavily advertising the marketplace leading up to the conference is also critical as well as pairing with local presenters who can speak the local language.
We intend to make the Geriatric Emergency Medicine marketplace a regular feature of ICEM, and intend the next marketplace to be larger and cover a wider variety of relevant topics.