Addiction medicine conference hailed as ‘unique’ event

Morgan Liotta

24/02/2023 2:55:55 PM

IMiA 2023 aimed to promote quality healthcare and generated ‘a great deal of respect for the work GPs achieve in this space’.

IMiA conference shots
GPs, psychiatrists and addiction medicine specialists from around the world attended the three-day IMiA conference in Melbourne.

Around 500 GPs, psychiatrists, and addiction medicine specialists gathered at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 17–19 February for the seventh International Medicine in Addiction (IMiA) 2023 conference.
Hosted in partnership with the RACGP, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), experts met to discuss the challenges and opportunities in addiction medicine and harm reduction, reviewing national and international trends.
Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Addiction Medicine Dr Hester Wilson was among the keynote presenters and told newsGP it was a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to reconnect with colleagues old and new at the first in-person IMiA conference in four years.
‘I had a wonderful time at the conference,’ she said. 
‘The presentations were brilliant. So high calibre, super practical with lots of food for thought and change I can make in my practice.
‘I loved the mix of doctors attending and revelled in the high numbers of wonderful highly skilled GPs attending.’
Dr Wilson presented at a Saturday workshop on the benefits of real-time prescription monitoring, and how it has helped GPs provide support to patients on safe prescribing and in minimising associated harms.
‘I have to say, GPs are perfect at addiction with its broad depth of issues and presentations,’ she said.
‘We do it really well and the insights from the conference can only assist us.’
After delivering its Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) GP Education Program over the past two years, the RACGP has now developed a toolkit of resources as part of the program delivery.
The library of resources includes best practice approaches for routine or opportunistic screening to identify patients who are experiencing substance use, and safe prescribing. The final report on the program’s successful deliverables and outcomes of participants’ feedback is due for release by the end of February.
GP and addiction medicine specialist Dr Paul Grinzi, who sat with Dr Wilson as clinical lead on the college’s AOD GP Education Program, also presented at IMiA alongside GP Associate Professor Louise Stone and psychiatrist Professor Marie Bismark for a session titled ‘Practitioner health and wellbeing: Supporting ourselves and each other’.
‘What a great event,’ Dr Grinzi told newsGP.
‘This conference is unique in that it’s a combination of three colleges … in planning, effort and execution, and I felt there was something for all throughout the three days.
‘There was a great deal of respect from other specialists regarding the work GPs achieve in this space.’
Dr Grinzi said being part of the presentation on practitioner wellbeing was a highlight, where there was a resource on ‘managing misfortune’ outlining personal self-care strategies and principles for safe help-seeking for GPs.
These include the importance of GPs having their own doctor, effective communication and shared decision making.
‘A full room explored the barriers and enablers of doctors’ ability to follow our own advice and seek help from our own GP, when needed,’ Dr Grinzi said.
‘Through exploring individual “misfortunes” – found in fortune cookies handed out – a closer look at stigma was enabled, which led to consideration on how to assist our colleagues more effectively and empathically.
‘The participants also shared a range of activities that “filled their tank” so we can fulfill or professional roles in the best possible state.’
In addition to the packed weekend of clinical presentations and practical workshops, each college host – the RACGP, RACP and RANZCP – held a meeting for their members to connect, network, and hear new clinical updates.
RACGP members also discussed support for the CPD 2023–25 triennium and the Post-Fellowship Recognition pathway, currently being developed by RACGP Specific Interests.
Dr Grinzi said the networking and learning opportunities at the IMiA conference were valuable takeaways.
‘Connecting with like-minded colleagues amplified a renewed sense of purpose and it was wonderful to receive updates from world-class speakers on diverse topics such as driving and drugs, gaming disorder, trauma, stigma, and harm minimisation, to name a few,’ he said.
‘Can’t wait for the next one in two years.’
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