“3D”: Drugs, Dinos and Dinner – A Unique Conference in Tumbler Ridge

July 19, 2017

The “3D conference,” Drugs, Dinos and Dinner, was held in Tumbler Ridge May 10-11, 2017. The conference was one of the largest ever held in BC’s northeast; there were 42 physicians and pharmacists in attendance. Conference participants were treated to hours of talks by Dr. Tom Perry and Aaron Tejani from the Therapeutics Initiative, a UBC-based think-tank that analyzes evidence on which medications do and do not work.

This conference was very unique. First of all, there was no registration fee for the conference. The Tumbler Ridge physicians decided use their community educational funds to create a regional conference of benefit to all. Once the size and scope of the conference became apparent, Northern Health contributed the other half of the expenses.

Secondly, the team of nine medical residents from the teaching program in Fort St John agreed to take out deadfall that had accumulated over the winter on the hiking trails. Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark has become renowned for these trails. The Geopark is one of 120 such UNESCO sites in the world, and one of only two in North America. The team worked to haul logs off the trail for three hours.

Delegates at “3D”: Drugs, Dinos and Dinner

Fort St. John Medical Residents clearing the trails in Tumbler Ridge

Thirdly, the event was held in the education room of the Tumbler Ridge Museum, and learning activities were combined with dinosaur attractions that aren’t available anywhere else in BC. Palaeontologists Dr. Richard McCrea and Dr. Lisa Buckley, and museum staff, lead participants through exhibits in the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, collections area, preparation lab, and photogrammetry imaging area.

Small towns have a way of displaying special hospitality. TR Cares, a local charitable organization, sponsored the accommodation of the medical residents in appreciation of their gift of clearing the trails. Add in live violin music, and free entry to the swimming pool thanks to the support of the District of Tumbler Ridge, and a globally unique learning environment was created, cementing the reputation of Tumbler Ridge as a destination with a difference.

Dr. Tom Perry and Aaron Tejani partook in all the activities, and commented: “This was one of the liveliest audiences we have taught and learned with. It is a pleasure to reach out from UBC to the communities whose work helps support our own. We would love to return if invited back, and think Tumbler Ridge has advantages for hosting similar educational events where the community spirit, natural history, and recreational activities form part of the educational package.”

At the end of the conference this sentiment was echoed: “Is it possible to make ‘3D’ an annual event?”