Dr Chris Course, ST6 Neonatal GRID Trainee
What is it?
The 3rd Congress of joint European Neonatal Societies (jENS) took place between 17th-21st September 2019. jENS is jointly organised by the European Society for Paediatric Research (ESPR), the Union of European Neonatal and Perinatal Societies (UENPS) and the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) and occurs on an alternate-yearly basis. It is one of the largest neonatal conferences in Europe, and around 2,000 delegates attended to hear the over 120 speakers discuss the latest scientific advances in basic, translational and clinical research, as well as latest clinical guidelines and recommendations in patient centred care, all within the field of neonatology and perinatal care.
Who is it for?
jENS is a perfect conference for anyone with an interest in neonatology. I think as a new GRID trainee it was really inspiring to hear about all the latest developments in the field and see what treatments and management strategies we may be employing in the next 5-10 years. I suspect the programme is probably too intensive care/tertiary neonates-focused for anyone within higher level general paediatric training, but for anyone more junior who is still deciding on later career aspirations, it certainly gave a good insight of the ever-evolving field of neonatology.
What was good about it?
The main conference ran over 3½ days and the programme was mainly centred around 4-6 concurrent sessions running simultaneously with different themes, covering nutrition, lung, neurology, cardiovascular and other topics. A mixture of poster walks, poster presentations and oral abstract presentation allowed delegates to also present their work, in addition to the invited speakers and plenaries. The whole conference then came together in the main auditorium at the end of most of the days for some diverse and thought-provoking plenary sessions, with a broad range of topics including integrating and undertaking research within daily clinical practice (Prof. Neena Modi, great to listen to as always), how to grade the quality of evidence (Prof. Roger Soll, head of the Cochrane Neonatal Group and Chair of Vermont-Oxford Network, making a dry-sounding topic really engaging and relevant) and how do we make end-of-life care decisions ethically and also involve parents and families actively in our decision-making process. There really was something for everyone!
I also had the opportunity to share some work I’ve been involved with through WREN on improving the management of Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Wales. I was quite nervous leading up to the presentation, but the audience were friendly and supportive (and didn’t ask too many difficult questions!). It was a fantastic opportunity to do some CV-building and gain some experience presenting to some really eminent neonatologists who are leading their field.
It also meant I was eligible to apply for and be awarded an Educational Bursary (courtesy of the charity Bliss, funded by Chiesi) which made the conference more financially viable for me to attend. The opportunities for funding to attend these big international meetings are out there, but often not well advertised to trainees – it’s definitely worth asking around (and talking to relevant pharmaceutical reps and companies) if you’d like to attend any of these big meetings. I find it enthuses me about my speciality and I can really recommend trying to attend whichever conference would be relevant for your interests.
The conference was also an opportunity to visit Maastricht, a place I knew nothing about and would never have visited otherwise. Maastricht is a beautiful, historical city, and walking around in the morning and evenings, as well as finding some great little Dutch restaurants, was a lovely way to relax around a packed conference programme.
When is it next on?
The 4thjENS Congress will be taking place in Athens from 14th-18thSeptember 2021. I plan on attending again and look forward to discussing some of the ideas and new knowledge I’ve gained with my colleagues in NICU on my return from this trip!
Dr Annabel Greenwood