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Congress update: real science, relevance

Sarah May, Deputy Chief Executive at the IBMS, explains the approach behind this year’s Congress.

When planning for Congress 2017 began, we were conscious that it is getting harder each year for people to attend conference events. Therefore the approach we took was this:

  • Absolutely everything must be of direct relevance to individuals and to the departments that support them to attend 
  • There must be a spread of material to suit those who are newer to the profession and those who are experienced
  • We must reflect the core biomedical science subjects, but must also include the emerging sciences
  • Time must not be a constraint so we will offer the most popular programmes on the Sunday in addition to the weekday programme
  • We will offer a full three days of free seminars as a supplement to the main lecture programme, to provide additional perspectives and to prevent cost being a barrier to people accessing learning
  • We want an exhibition that gives unprecedented access to experts in the newest science and technology who can advise on products, provide information and give demonstrations.

That was the six-point plan that has guided the last 18 months of preparation. I feel that we have more than delivered on our promise. We have taken from what we learned from Congress 2015 and have made it even better; our first attempt at introducing a practical microscopy element to Congress was so over-subscribed that this year we are doubling the amount of microscopes. Microscopy workshops include:

  • Non-gynaecological cytology – Sunday afternoon. An intensive afternoon of practical microscopy followed by a guided analysis of all of the cases. This is an essential learning opportunity for anyone who screens non-gynae cytology.
  • Andrology microscopy and practical techniques – Monday afternoon. There have been a number of challenges for andrology and semen analysis services in departments seeking UKAS accreditation. This workshop will be led by highly experienced andrologists who will guide participants through the requirements for handling samples, performing counts and assessing morphology. Positive and negative pressure pipettes, Neubauer counting chambers for sample counts and fixed wet preparations for morphology assessments will be provided. This is a unique opportunity to combine a practical workshop with andrology lectures on the following day.

Exhibition hall seminars

Our exhibition hall seminars are a more informal lecture setting and are free to all to attend. On Monday 25 September, we will have a focus on point-of-care testing (POCT) covering quality, managing POCT from a quality manager’s perspective and EQA. This session will also incorporate an update from Health Education England on the 100K Genomes Project.

On the Tuesday, we are carrying our education and training programme over from the main lecture programme, in order for delegates to have the opportunity to discuss issues with the presenters in a more informal setting. This seminar programme will launch the latest edition of the Registration Training Portfolio, the revised Specialist Diploma and an “all you need to know” about the Higher Specialist Diploma. 

On Wednesday, the army will be once again demonstrating their approach to delivering pathology services in challenging and often hostile conditions.  

  • Military laboratory support to United Nations Mission in South Sudan 
  • Alternative blood supply in austere environments 
  • Delivery of a portable clinical laboratory (BMS with a Bergan).

For those arriving early we are starting some programmes at 08.15am, to enable you to make the most of every minute at Congress. Never before have we included so much!

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