As Dr Graham Doherty (GP) and Mrs Robbie Doherty (RN) prepare to embark on their 9th Unconventional Convention, they reflect back over the many adventures they’ve shared with the Unconventional family and discuss what draws them back time and time again.
Written by Dr Graham Doherty
Studying medicine and dentistry are life-long learning commitments. For me, travel also falls into this category. After looking at the Unconventional Conventions (UC) programs for conferences for some years, I undertook my first trip to Antarctica in 2013. I am about to embark on my ninth conference to Norway in January to absorb the Northern lights spectacle.
Over the past seven years, UC has taken me to many non-mainstream destinations which have included the Arctic, Spice Islands, Cuba, Bhutan, Iran, Mongolia, and most recently Ecuador, Galapagos Islands and the Amazon.
Some photos of the Dohertys in the Galapagos Islands and Amazon.
Each trip organisation is outstanding. Expert local guides with an in-depth knowledge of their country ‘s historical and economic development, local guides passionate about their communities and a senior travel consultant from UC to address any unexpected itinerary hiccups accompany all conferences
The education program is always very relevant to all domains of General Practice. All sessions are accredited with RACGP / ACRRM for Category 2 CPD points and some offer QI sessions to comply with Catergory 1 activities. Visits to local medical facilities are included where possible and it is fascinating to learn about disease morbidity and mortality within the local communities.
Back in 2017, The Spice Islands conference cruise stopped off at many small islands in the Banda Sea to meet with local communities.
However, lectures are not limited to medical issues. Practice management, estate planning and wealth protection are nearly always included. Presentations by local government dignitaries on health care are often included. At a recent conference, the Australian Ambassador spoke very positively about the emerging economy of his recent deployment. Local indigenous wildlife guides deliver topical lectures on flora and fauna. Such is the spectrum of an UC conference.
Accommodation is always well planned and appropriate to the locality ranging from magnificent art-deco heritage-listed hotels, luxury trains and boats to village homestays which often include local culinary delicacies and cultural experiences.
Graham and Robbie attended the medical conference in Mongolia which coincided with the national sports festival. Our group gained up-close access to local families and sportsmen as they prepared for the prestigious event.
The majority of attendees are return delegates. Comradery is infectious with much of any spare time spent detailing interesting travel experiences since the last gathering. The end-of-conference dinners are legendary! Imagine being driven from your art-deco hotel to the Havana Club overlooking the Caribbean Sea in a 1956 blue Chevy Impala convertible as a prelude to a night of son, salsa and rumba.
The best way to maintain good health is to remain both physically and mentally active. UC conferences cater for all ages and provide a guide to suggested levels of fitness. It is never too late to participate with like-minded adventurous medical and dental colleagues not only from Australia but also from NZ and around the globe. Such is the diversity of professionals who comprise the UC family. Whilst photography is synonymous with travelling, it is not essential. Sometimes, simply observing the majestic splendour of the moment before you can hold an equally wonderful lifetime memory as someone else’s photograph. On any Unconventional Convention, there are many occasions where each and everyone can do this without feeling intimidated.
Some of the highlights with the Dohertys on the Unconventional Conventions include:
In Bhutan, our delegation challenged the local guides to an archery competition:
The Dohertys travelled through Iran with Unconventional Conventions by luxurious train, stopping at small communities along the way for an unexpectadly amazing journey.