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Want to fine-tune your practice? Visit Annual Session

This year's meeting will feature new clinical skills workshops and more opportunities for hands-on learning

From the March ACP Observer, copyright 2004 by the American College of Physicians.

By Janet Colwell

The practicing physician is the focus of this year's Annual Session, where internists will find a wealth of clinical and business skills they can use to improve patient care and fine-tune their practice.

Internal medicine's premier meeting, which will be held April 22 through 24 in New Orleans, features more than 260 scientific offerings. Sessions include an expanded menu of pre-Session courses and clinical skills workshops.

"We have a great variety of topics lined up to help practicing physicians improve both their fund of knowledge and clinical skills," said Scott C. Litin, MACP, Chair of the Scientific Program Subcommittee for this year's meeting and a general internist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Even with our larger sessions, we've made every effort to keep things as hands-on and interactive as possible."

Opening Ceremony will feature a keynote speech on atherosclerosis research by Joseph L. Goldstein, FACP, chair of the molecular genetics department at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Dr. Goldstein was co-recipient of the 1985 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

Other notable speakers this year include Lucian Leape, MD, adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health and a driving force in improving national safety efforts. Dr. Leape will speak on patient safety.

This year's Annual Session will also feature several firsts. For the first time, handout materials for many scientific sessions will be available online. Registered attendees can download handouts by going to ACP Online and clicking on the Annual Session logo.

Attendees will once again have a chance to get together Wednesday evening before Annual Session. The informal reception held in the Exhibit Hall will give internists a chance to network and meet colleagues from around the country. They can also speak to representatives from hundreds of companies and learn about the latest products and services.

An orientation session being held Thursday morning between 7 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. will help attendees choose from the extensive menu of scientific sessions and hands-on workshops so they can get the most out of attending Annual Session. It is specifically designed to help orient first-time Annual Session attendees, although it is open to all attendees.


Internists practice excisional biopsy at the Herbert S. Waxman learning center.


And an "Annual Session Highlights" session on Saturday evening from 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. will feature highlights from the entire meeting. Three teaching internists—who will attend a variety of Session courses and workshops over the course of the meeting—will report on the outstanding features and present key take-home messages at the session.

Dr. Litin is also presenting a new session this year with Harold C. Sox, MACP, Editor of Annals of Internal Medicine. "The Art of Public Speaking and Getting Published" is geared especially to residents and fellows, although it is open to all attendees.

"Rarely are physicians mentored in either of these very important communication skill sets," Dr. Litin pointed out. "This session will provide tips on how to get published and make your speaking presentations better than they've ever been."

Other highlights include:

  • Pre-Session courses. On April 20 and 21, the College will offer one- and two-day pre-Session courses, including programs on critical care medicine, ECG interpretation, advances in drug therapy, trends in the business of medicine, preparing for recertification and risk management strategies for the practicing physician.

    Of special note, a pair of sessions is geared to help recertifying physicians complete general internal medicine modules for the American Board of Internal Medicine's recertification program. Attendees at each session will complete a module through group discussions led by expert faculty. (Each of the two sessions will target a different module.)

    Another new, two-day pre-Session course will focus on how physicians can use technology to reduce overhead and increase time with patients. The course is designed to help physicians in small practices take advantage of information technology by using inexpensive, off-the-shelf software.

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

    A new urine microscopy workshop will teach attendees how to prepare specimens, scan slides and interpret findings. Participants will identify urine abnormalities, with expert lab technicians on hand to answer questions and give feedback.

    Another new workshop will cover psychiatric interviewing for primary care. Registered attendees will learn about the latest interviewing techniques, then practice those techniques in role-playing sessions with standardized patients.

    Other clinical skills workshops will focus on the neurological exam, diagnosing peripheral artery disease, wound care, and identifying the emotional aspects of somatic complaints.

  • The Herbert S. Waxman Learning Center. The Learning Center has been renamed in memory of Herbert S. Waxman, FACP, the Senior Vice President of the College's Medical Knowledge and Education division from April 1996 until his death in February 2003.

    The Learning Center offers a variety of interactive educational activities in physical examination skills, office-based procedures and communication skills.

    The Learning Center this year features an exciting lineup of new features, including a new procedure workshop on spirometry.

    Popular Learning Center favorites returning this year include physical exam tutorials as well as workshops in skin biopsy, arthrocentesis and joint injection, musculoskeletal exam, sports medicine, flexible sigmoidoscopy, casting and splinting, and thyroid exams.

    The Learning Center will also hold demonstration workshops focused on computers in medical practice, including one on using e-mail for clinical communications. Make appointments for Learning Center activities as soon as possible on-site.

  • Clinical Pearls. These popular interactive, case-based sessions let physicians test their clinical knowledge on tough but recurrent patient management scenarios. This year's sessions will focus on cases related to hematology, women's health, gastroenterology, pulmonary disease, cardiology and neurology.

  • Meet and Eat with the Professor. These sessions allow small groups of physicians to meet with distinguished internists. Topics range from career issues to alternative medicine, and include controversies in drug therapy, management issues for breast cancer survivors, hyperlipidemia and anxiety disorders. The sessions fill quickly and require advance reservations.

  • Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind. This popular series of panel sessions gives physicians the opportunity to get evidence-based answers from expert faculty to frequently encountered, clinically complex or controversial issues.

  • 5K Fun Run and Walk. This year's fun run benefits the Louisiana State University's student-run homeless clinic. You can register online for the fun run and for Annual Session.

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

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