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Bioterrorism, other hot topics on Annual Session agenda

This year's meeting will feature a keynote speech from the director of the CDC and other topical sessions

From the February ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright © 2003 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

By Phyllis Maguire

Need help with recertification? Give Annual Session a try

This year's Annual Session will feature courses on bioterrorism and other hot topics like hormone replacement, as well as a pre-Session course on handheld computing and expanded clinical skills workshops.

The College's annual meeting, which will be held April 3-5 in San Diego, will give bioterrorism-related issues a high profile, starting with the keynote speech during opening ceremony. This year's keynote speaker will be Julie L. Gerberding, ACP-ASIM Member, who last July became director of the CDC. Dr. Gerberding will also present two additional sessions, one on bioterrorism and another on microbial counterinsurgency.

Jeffrey Glassroth, FACP, Chair of the Scientific Program Subcommittee for this year's meeting and chair of the department of medicine at University of Wisconsin at Madison, said that one goal of this year's meeting was to build several sessions around "hot topics" such as hormone replacement therapy.

To help attendees locate courses geared to specific areas of interest, this year's program also identifies four different program tracks among the 200-plus offered sessions: common office problems, hot topics, medical leadership and prevention and screening.

Dr. Glassroth explained that the common office problem track might help young physicians who are just coming out of training and aren't entirely familiar with the scope and pace of office practice. He said that veteran physicians, on the other hand, might be more interested in hot topics or medical leadership.

Other highlights of this year's meeting include the following:

  • Pre-Session courses. On April 1 and 2, the College will offer one- and two-day pre-Session courses, including programs on critical care medicine, dermatology and ECG interpretation, as well as a course to help physicians prepare for recertification.

    ACP-ASIM will also offer two new pre-Session courses this year. A one-day course on practice management will give internists a broad overview of new political and business trends that affect the practice environment. The course will help internists make the most of coding and billing for patient visits, as well as evaluate how new services and practice innovations can boost productivity and quality.

    A new half-day pre-Session course will give internists tips on integrating personal digital assistants (PDAs) into medical practice. The course will look at operating systems and software for PDAs and give tips on how to evaluate PDA tools for physicians. Because the half-day pre-Session course begins at 1:00 p.m. the day before the meeting starts, it is ideal for attendees who arrive early.

  • Clinical skills workshops. This year's Annual Session will feature several new workshops to help physicians sharpen their clinical skills.

    A new workshop on interpreting breath sounds will complement the popular Heart Sounds and Murmurs Workshop. In the breath sounds workshop, a computer simulator will present significant pulmonary sounds that internists should be able to identify, including the rales of congestive heart failure, asthma wheezing and the crackles that can present with interstitial lung disease.

    Attendees who register for either of the two sounds-oriented workshops will be directed before Annual Session to a Web site where they can use a breath or heart sounds self-assessment program to test their diagnostic skills. They will be able to re-test their skills on the Web site after the workshop to gauge how their skills have improved.

    Other new workshops will focus on neurological screening exams, cryosurgery techniques, and prescribing and using durable medical equipment.

  • The Learning Center. The always-popular Learning Center will offer a new hands-on feature this year: a thyroid exam. "It's actually very difficult to do a good thyroid exam," said Patrick Alguire, FACP, the College's Director of Education and Career Development. The sessions, which are free but require reservations, will give participants an opportunity to feel both normal and abnormal thyroid conditions.


    During last year's Annual Session, attendees hone their joint injection skills at the Learning Center workshop.

    This year's Learning Center will also continue to offer hands-on instruction in musculoskeletal and sports medicine exams, physical exams with standardized patients, and arthrocentesis and joint injection. Internists will also have a chance to learn flexible sigmoidoscopy techniques using a simulator, as well as simple physical therapy techniques to teach patients to ease common conditions like lower back pain.

  • Clinical Pearls. These interactive, case-based sessions let physicians test their clinical acumen on tough, recurring patient management issues. In each of the three 90-minute sessions, faculty will present several challenging clinical scenarios in two different subspecialty areas.

    This year's Clinical Pearl sessions will focus on cardiology, women's health, endocrinology, pulmonology, gastroenterology and infectious diseases.

  • Meet and Eat with the Professor. These sessions allow attendees to meet distinguished internists in a group setting smaller than the College's traditional "Meet the Professor" sessions. Topics at this year's sessions will include erythropoietin guidelines for anemia, menopause and hormone replacement, breast cancer risk assessment and genetic testing. These sessions fill quickly and require advance reservations.

  • Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind. Now in its sixth year, the "Multiple Small Feedings" sessions give attendees an opportunity to get evidence-based answers from expert faculty on clinically complex or controversial issues. "Feedings" is a series of three 90-minute panel sessions, each covering three clinical topics.

  • "Run for Your Life." This year, the Governors are sponsoring a 5K fun run and walk fundraiser to support St. Vincent de Paul Village Health Services, which provides health care for the homeless and underserved in San Diego. A registration form is available online.

More information about this year's meeting is available in the advance program, which was mailed to all members last month.

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Need help with recertification? Give Annual Session a try

If you're preparing for recertification, this year's Annual Session is offering a great new tool, but you need to act soon.

For the first time, internists at the meeting will be able to take an "in-practice" exam that will help them gauge areas where they need help. The exam is based on the College's popular in-training exam that helps residents prepare for the Boards.

Data from this pilot project will help participants identify areas where they need more study, and it will help the College decide whether to offer the exam in large cities as a permanent recertification preparation tool.

The exam, which is free, will be given on Sunday, April 6. Candidates will receive a free MKSAP Prep for Boards CD-ROM. Registration is limited to the first 300 recertification candidates, and the registration deadline is Feb. 28.

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