The Road To IFOMPT 2016

I could spend precious time and words telling you how great IFOMPT2016 is going to be, and how you simply have to be there darling, but I won’t-you’ll hear plenty of that in the coming year, and all that info is on the conference website. Of course it will be a fab event.   What I thought I’d share is my reflection on the process of being involved in this type of event, and the journey we’ve been on to get this far. Like any journey, there have been ups and downs, a few wrong turns and plenty of fun along the way. If you are thinking of organising a conference, I don’t know whether to advise you to read on or look away now….

So it all seems to have started a very long time ago, when we decided at the MACP Exec to bid to host IFOMPT 2012, yes that’s not a misprint-IFOMT 2012. This was 2009 and for some reason we thought it would be good to host a major international conference between the main Olympics and the Paralympics (you know what, I still think it would have been great!).

Somewhat naively I thought it would be good to be involved and thus entered into a whole new world of marketing, filming, schmoozing (is that how you spell it?) and a whole new set of acronyms. I worked with a great team, both from the MACP and our partners at the time, Elsevier and Visit London. We produced a really professional, exciting bid document that could not fail to win the votes of the IFOMPT voting delegates

We failed and the 2012 IFOMPT conference went to Quebec…. months and months of work and the wrong result for us. I’d found it a very odd experience giving our final presentation before the vote. Thumping heart, mouth as dry as a dry thing on a dry day in dry town, tongue feeling four times its usual size, and then delivering the presentation with a very straight bat and no humour. Now I’m no Jimmy Carr when it comes to presentation and humour, but it was like someone else up there, and it wasn’t great. Epic fail I think is how my 7 year old daughter would describe it!  Great job by Quebec though, and a great conference from them in 2012.

I was personally devastated and felt thoroughly responsible for leading an unsuccessful bid. It was all a bit humiliating and it was hard not to take it very personally. I really felt I’d let a great team down, and felt pretty guilty about the amount of money we’d spent on the process, this was MACP members’ money after all, and on the face of it, there was little to show for their investment.

Having licked our wounds, we decided that our first step would be to try to work with the IFOMPT Exec to develop the process for awarding the conference (of course it must have been that that had scuppered our 2012 bid!!). We worked with a dedicated team from IFOMPT to create a transparent and robust process for the 2016 conference bidding.  Now there was no excuse-we had to have another go. A cunning plan I thought, a chance for redemption! So what had we learned from our epic fail and what did we do to turn it around for 2016? I’ll let you know next time..

This post was written by Chris Mercer. Chris is a Consultant Physiotherapist specialising in the management of low back pain, and the development of advanced practice roles. He chaired the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) Back Pain Guideline group, and was a member of the Whiplash Associated Disorder Guideline Group. He is currently a member of the Royal College of Physicians Occupational Health national back pain audit group, the CSP Professional Practice and Service Delivery Committee, and the national research funding stream, the Research for Patient Benefit Programme. Chris is an active member of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP) and is on the local IFOMPT 2016 organising committee.