Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Twittering from San Francisco

Theresa Chan over at Rural Doctoring just attended Bob Wachter’s 12th Annual Hospital Medicine course. While there she did some profuse Twittering, serving up just enough information about the conference to remind me how disappointed I was that I was unable to attend this year. My reasons for skipping this year’s course (I have attended in the past) were largely economic. Like many doctors I have a budget. There are competing demands on that budget. There were a wife, kids and grand kids to think of. There were charitable giving opportunities. There were medical bills. I am an adult. I can’t have everything I want. But I’m disappointed.

I’ve done a lot of ranting lately about the folks who don’t want the pharmaceutical industry to help underwrite the expenses of CME. Doctors already pay a great deal for their continuing professional education. They want us to pay more. They argue that, for the individual doctor, money is no object in seeking the best quality CME. As real world experience of many practicing physicians can attest, they are wrong.

I started live blogging from meetings about a year ago. These are conventional blog posts (more my style than Twittering) including brief mention of some of the presentations that interested me most along with an overview of the conference and a word or two about commercial influence. (See examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

How many attendees in San Francisco this year realize that CME is under attack, and that if practicing doctors don’t raise their collective voice against the rising inquisition (to borrow a word from Thomas Stossel) this may be the end for Bob’s course and others like it? (Bob himself has said so---see his comment thread in the link above).

We can’t take anything for granted in our professional lives these days. I’ll try to be optimistic, and hope to join Bob and the other attendees in San Francisco next year. We’ll probably see a wrap up post from Bob in the coming days about the course. Maybe he’ll weigh in on the “CME inquisition.”

I would like to thank Bob for his hard work and dedication in keeping this course going. I am especially grateful for his generosity in allowing free on line posting of the slides from most of the talks. I look forward to pouring over this content and examining the cited references! But if that’s the next best thing to being there it’s no substitute. A relaxing, spectacular location away from the tedium and hassles of home and work supercharges the mind for more effective learning. And, of course, there’s the opportunity to interact with an all star faculty as well as the networking and shared enthusiasm among the attendees.

For those of you who maintain that industry funding for this type of CME is corrupting, I issue this challenge. Examine the lecture slides. If you find content that is inaccurate, unscientific, unbalanced or distorted in any way please leave a comment. I would also be interested in comments from readers who attended the meeting.


Theresa said...

Hi, thanks for the nice feedback about my tweets. I was afraid I was overloading Twitter, but a lot of people found them interesting.

In answer to your question, I didn't feel there was any commercial bias in the presentation itself. There was an exhibit room where staffing companies and textbook publishers were represented, and I did see some attendees walking around with logo tote bags, but overall the pharma/device presence was largely absent.

Of course the staffing companies (IPC, Team Health, Sutter, etc.) had booths--and I know at least one hospitalist who explored some employment opportunities with them. This actually makes sense to me.

R. W. Donnell said...

The last time I attended a lot of the exhibitors, as you pointed out, were book vendors and staffing companies. While the pharma companies keep a fairly low profile their support for meetings like this is significant. Thaks for your comment.

scalpel said...

While I appreciate the superior educational and relaxation benefits of traditional CME courses, the availability of free internet CME has, for me, made those expenditures obsolete.

R. W. Donnell said...

I'm sure many doctors feel the same way. The larger point is that all CME, including the free Internet CME, is under threat.