Monday, September 08, 2008

CME conference---final thoughts

This post will read like a promotion for the Tutorials in the Tetons Update in Cardiovascular Disease. I have a purely personal interest in promoting the meeting. I want it to continue so I can attend future conferences. After first attending in 1981 I was hooked and have returned almost every year since. Traveling to this spectacularly beautiful piece of the planet makes me feel expansive and affords a unique opportunity for learning away from the distractions and pressures of home. It is a time of heightened creative energy and intense personal reflection. It has also been a time for thinking extensively on medicine and life in new ways.

That’s what the late Robert Eliot, MD, had in mind when he started this meeting in 1974. Eliot was chief of Cardiology at the University of Nebraska School of Medicine. Having experienced a myocardial infarction in his 40s without any of the traditional risk factors, he examined his lifestyle and concluded that stress had played a role in the event. He went on to develop an intense personal and professional interest in the relation between mental stress and cardiovascular disease, publishing many papers and two popular books for the lay public. He spent a good portion of his professional life studying and treating stress in physicians. He intended for his annual meeting to be both educational and therapeutic for attendees. Indeed it was. The tradition of a CME course which is both educational and therapeutic for health care professionals has continued since Eliot’s death. A memorial lectureship established in his honor funds one of the speakers at each meeting.

One or two talks each year are devoted to cutting edge topics in their infancy or even years ahead of widespread clinical application. For the last few years these presentations have covered genomics applied to cardiovascular disease. I always feel ahead of the curve in new advances after attending. It was at this conference that I first learned of thrombolysis in myocardial infarction, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and Brugada syndrome. It was where I first learned about angioscopic data showing that acute coronary syndromes were caused by thrombi in dynamic stages of formation and lysis, providing a rationale for anticoagulation as a “new” therapeutic approach to acute coronary syndromes.

Each year there is at least one presentation devoted to basic clinical skills such as ECG interpretation, X ray interpretation or auscultation. Over the years I have been exposed to a “parade of stars” at this meeting including Barney Marriott, Proctor Harvey, Michael Debakey, William Casteli and many others.

Not all the presentations are spectacular in this sense. The core material covers the “nuts and bolts” of cardiology of importance to generalist physicians. The conference should be useful to cardiologists, emergency physicians, internists, family practitioners, hospitalists, nurses and physician extenders.

The meeting is ideally situated at one of the spectacular national park lodges, the Jackson Lake Lodge, right in the middle of Grand Teton National Park. It is equidistant and an easy drive from Yellowstone Park to the North and Jackson Wyoming (shopping and excellent restaurants ) to the South. The course, 12-14 CME hours over three days, allows ample time to enjoy the surroundings. Come early, stay late and combine CME and vacation. It’s an ideal place to bring the family.

Consider attending next year. Save the dates for the 2009 conference: August 29-Sept 1. To get on the mailing list or find more information about the conference go to the web site of the sponsoring institution, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia. I’ll be posting updates here about next year’s conference as they become available. Feel free to email me about accommodations, travel and other details. I’d love to see some of you there next year!

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