Learning from Bedside's Best
By Carla Garnett
On the Front Page...
Dr. Paul Plotz, chief of NIAMS's Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, recently made a discovery that had little to do with his research as a rheumatologist: He found that he was...hungry. Not for food, but for the rush he had as a physician just beginning his practice. There is an interaction with patients and with other doctors that belongs uniquely to clinicians, Plotz notes, and as he became more involved with his narrow corner of medicine and research, he found himself farther and farther from general clinical practice.
Coincidentally, Plotz was asked to chair the NIH/FAES continuing medical education (CME) committee that was seeking to enhance CME on campus. Plotz and his committee conducted an NIH-wide survey of physicians and identified several clinical topics of immediate interest to physicians. Based on the survey results, the committee went in search of the best physicians to handle the topics. Now, with the NIH Office of Education and the strong support of NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman, the scientific directors, Clinical Center director Dr. John Gallin, the medical executive committee and FAES, the CME committee will cohost the first annual "Contemporary Clinical Medicine: Great Teachers" series, a new component of Grand Rounds at the Clinical Center. Speakers from across the nation and even abroad were selected based on their expertise in clinical management as well as their effectiveness as teachers and presenters.
A more informal survey among Plotz's peers revealed that he was not alone in missing the practice of medicine: Many other physicians who had come to NIH fresh from clinical environments now find themselves immersed in their studies at the bench or in increasingly specialized clinical practice, and feeling far removed from the daily requirements of attending at the bedside.
Plotz says he and many of his colleagues would enjoy refresher sessions on the latest in clinical practice. "A lot of us in the labs miss the vigor and energy associated with seeing patients," he explains. The new lecture series will be one way such researchers can get back in the swing of it.
"The viewpoint will be from the bedside and the emphasis on the practical," according to Sylvia Scherr, executive director of CME in NIH's Office of Education. "There will be some novel teaching techniques, including those that engage the audience in a participatory interaction."
In one such lecture, neurologist Jay Preston Mohr, Sciarra professor at Columbia University's Neurological Institute, will examine a patient and discuss the findings, says Plotz. In another, physician-teacher Dr. Faith Fitzgerald, assistant dean, office of medical education at the University of California, Davis, will be presented with several difficult and perplexing cases; she will lead the audience through her reasoning process.
Plotz and his committee hope the series will accomplish at least three goals: deliver current practical medical advice to the hospital's physicians, preserve the tradition of great teaching lectures at NIH and help excite physicians who may have strayed far from their original clinical interests.
"I'd like to fill the auditorium every time with enthusiasm," Plotz declares. "I want this series to make non-clinical people sit up and take notice too. Clinical practice techniques move very fast. In 6 months or a year, there's a new way of doing this or that. The content of these lectures may go out of date quickly, but what will last is the great teaching. The subject matter will be gone in 5 years; the great teaching will still be true."
Besides Plotz, Scherr and committee deputy chair Dr. John Hurley, other members of the CME committee who helped put the series in place include Ione Lagasse, Fred Gill, Art Atkinson, John Hallenbeck, Steve Marks, Ron Gress, Alan Schechter, Bob Adelstein, Douglas Brust and Clair Francomano.
The fall 2001-spring 2002 monthly series opens at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 12 with world renowned cardiologist Dr. Eugene Braunwald, the Hershey distinguished professor of theory and practice of physic at Harvard Medical School, and former clinical director of NHLBI. He will be introduced by NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein.
The series continues in October with neurologist Jay Mohr; November Dr. Richard Wenzel of the Medical College of Virginia, lecturing on hospital-acquired infection; December Dr. Norman Kaplan of the University of Texas Southwestern, lecturing on hypertension; January Dr. Samuel Katz, Wilbert Davison professor emeritus at Duke University, lecturing on immunization; February Dr. Robert Kreisberg of University of South Alabama, lecturing on diabetes; March Dr. John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins, lecturing on HIV infection; April Dr. Irwin Merton Braverman of Yale, lecturing on skin signs of systemic disease; and May Dr. Anthony Miller of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, lecturing on screening for cancer. The 10-lecture series concludes June 12 with Dr. Faith Fitzgerald discussing mysterious cases.
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