Association of Kerala Medical Graduates/AKMG

Krishna R. Prasad, MD
Ottawa is calling! Ottawa is Ready!!

The sap has started flowing and fresh syrup is finding its way into maple leaf shaped bottles. The capital city is engulfed in a sweet hyacinth fragrance. Soon we will see a riot of colors from the million tulips that bloom in the parks and along the walkways of Ottawa. Surely the ice has melted and we are in a convention mood. These may be early signs of spring for many, but for the hardy AKMG devotee, it is but an augur of the excitement to follow and what promises to be one of the most stimulating powwows of the family in recent times.

The stage is set and we are ready. We are ready to welcome you to Ottawa, the capital city straddled by a UNESCO world heritage site, the Rideau Canal, and home to numerous monuments, historic edifices, museums and parks. Situated at the border of Quebec and Ontario, the city is steeped in culture with French and English influences evident at every corner. Our venue, the Brookstreet Hotel, is one of the highest rated resorts in the region and is situated on the beautiful Marshes Golf Course boasting stunning vistas of the Gatineau Hills. We have the entire floor of the brand new, high tech conference facility with access to balconies and a large foyer with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the greens.

Apart from a Royal College Accredited CME program with internationally acclaimed speakers, we have a long list of artists and dignitaries from North America and Kerala, expected to attend our convention. Among the myriad of activities that have been carefully picked to enlighten your senses and enhance your experiences, I will highlight a select few here. On Thursday evening we have the amazingly talented fusion band Ameya performing several classic and new songs covering multiple genres to kick-start the entertainment lineup. The internationally renowned music composer, conductor and violinist, Jayadevan, a product of Kalakshetra who was trained by eminent gurus including Padmavibhushan Dr. M Balamuralikrishna, leads Ameya.

On Friday afternoon the venue will transform into a village in Kerala with attendees wearing traditional attire and feasting on a 24- dish grand sadhya prepared by an award winning celebrity chef, followed by a lavish welcome extended to our beloved King Mahabali with a procession and accompanying chendamelam, thalapoli, thiruvathira and kathakali.

Studies have shown that close to 50% of physicians have shown at least one symptom of burnout. Physician stress and burnout is a reality and AKMG feels this is an extremely important topic to tackle. Eminent psychiatrist and burnout expert Dr. Shabbir Amanullah will lead our expert panel. This panel will dive deep into the early signs, causes and available management options for physician burnout. Let's try and prevent burnout. As dusk sets in, the stage will be set for AKMG's in-house production 'Parashuram Express' a megashow featuring Kerala's rich cultural heritage, awe-inspiring art forms, mesmerizing melodies and traditional stories that are bound tobring back many memories. We welcome you aboard this acclaimed train on a nostalgic journey meandering through the wondrous landscape of God's own country.

This is a momentous era in healthcare with the avant-garde blazing away and scaling new heights. Technological leaps and changing discourse on the manner we practice medicine are certainly questioning the status quo. The second panel will address innovation in health care and will be led by none other than the President and CEO of Canada Foundation for Innovation Dr. Roseann O'Reilly Runte. Dr. Runte has been recognized with the Order of Canada, the French Order of Merit, fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, and is Commander of the Order of the Crown of the Kingdom of Belgium and Officer in the Order of the Academic Palmes of the French Republic. Dr. Salim Yusuf, the second most cited scientist in the world, will be part of the panel. Dr. Yusuf has been inducted into the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. He has been recognized with the Order of Canada the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. We have other global leaders in epidemiology and governance participating and will help us gain a comprehensive perspective on where we are heading and how best to be prepared for 2020.

AKMG has a lot of talent and a large group of us have turned to photography as a means to de-stress and search for greener pastures in our 'out-of-scrubs' time. We have a photography exhibition and workshop led by Thomas Vijayan, winner of numerous international awards including the coveted wildlife photographer of the year award from the National History Museum in London, England. As you know, we have an ongoing photography competition with an online portal to upload images. We have received numerous entries already. If you have not done so, please do upload your best shots (maximum of 10 entries per person) there to win prizes.

The grand prize is a wildlife safari package in Africa for 3 days. The prize does not include air tickets and you have to be registered for the convention to be eligible. The grand finale will start with an awards and recognitions function and distribution of prizes. We have the honor of hosting Dr. Shashi Tharoor this year as our chief guest. Dr. Tharoor is the Lok Sabha MP representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, Government of India. He is an award winning and celebrated author. He is the former Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. He was the Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan's leadership of the UN. Dr. Tharoor has graciously accepted our invitation pending finalization of the parliament of India's schedule for the summer. We look forward to interacting and learning from him during our 39th annual convention in Ottawa. His Excellency Mr. Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, will grace the evening. Mr. Swarup is the author of the book that was made into the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. He has served as Joint Secretary United Nations and as the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

The meeting culminates with a cultural feast including a dance production 'Kavyanjali' directed and choreographed by the multitalented artists Suma Nair and Harikishan Nair. Our senior AKMG member, Dr. Bhavani Nair is adept at many a skill and is the brain behind the concept, script and extensive research that went into this epic production. This is a journey through the rich literary and poetic traditions of Kerala using dance as a medium of expression. Following this program we have a megashow starring playback singers Afsal, Akhila Anand and Movie Actor / Comedian Prasanth Kanjiramattom with the backing of a superb orchestra team from Kerala. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes! A word in closing. Over the years we have seen AKMG grow and flourish. To continue this trend it is extremely important that we encourage our younger colleagues and their families to attend these conventions. At the same time we should have a compelling value proposition to pique their interest. This year we will be providing the opportunity for podium presentations to the top abstracts submitted by trainees. They will be recognized in the main awards ceremony with awards. Several mentorship events are planned throughout the congress and we have programs to engage kids. AKMG has subsidized the attendance of medical and dental trainees. We have strived to curb any form of splurging and keep the costs minimum. Through persistent and arduous efforts we have raised sufficient sponsorship money to keep the registration fees at our target. This should be additional impetus for young families. Let us spread the word. Lets make it a grand success. I look forward to seeing you in the refined and chic capital city of one of the most beautiful, peaceful, tolerant and diverse countries in the world, Canada. Meanwhile enjoy some images from award winning photographer Thomas Vijayan. Visit our convention and photo competition link on for more.

Dr. Nigil Haroon
Convention Chair