The Importance of Continuing Medical Education, at Least in Theory…

Hello again residents. It’s the wee hours of the morning and I am in Chicago O’Hare International Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Columbus, Ohio, where I will serve as an ACCME/AMA monitor for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) at the Ohio Society of Pathologists (OSP) meeting. I wasn’t allowed on my flight because I was just beyond the cutoff time even though I had rushed out of the hospital, still in my scrubs. And so I got re-routed through Chicago and spent a couple hours at a hotel in order to sleep before catching an early flight the next day.

As the junior (trainee) member on CAP’s Council on Education (COE), I was given this opportunity to monitor this CME meeting for compliance to ACCME/AMA standards and CAP representation as a joint CME partner. I’ve served on the COE since January 2014. We have four meetings a year with two of them in Chicago. I was just approved for a second term that runs until December 2015. We oversee and approve proposed projects from all the educational committees of the CAP: publications, GME, CP education, and the curriculum committee as well as some of the educational aspects of the Annual Meeting.

Despite the airport snafus (which I’m pretty good at getting myself into), it was interesting to serve as a monitor. I met an attending from the Cleveland Clinic who I remembered from my residency interviews. I also met other residents and fellow who were in attendance. The OSP had taken great care to preclude commercial bias from their meeting. They did have a few exhibitors but they were in a separate room from the lecture sessions. I heard a very informative talk on the clinical oncology applications of next generation sequencing (NGS) as well as an engaging case-based session on dermatopathology cases.

The meeting was held in a hotel in Dublin, OH, which I strongly suspect must have Irish and German roots from the names of the town, streets, and types of restaurants (Irish pubs and German-Austrian) that are common here. The hotel restaurant which had an Irish name served a buffet of Irish food (no surprise) for the participants at a discounted rate. Overall, it was a good meeting with a good balance of germane topics covered. Having been a co-chair of a national medical conference when I was in medical school, I totally can appreciate all the pre-planning that goes on behind the scenes to organize meetings such as this. I was also able to have dinner with and catch up with a friend who is a non-pathology resident at the local Ohio State University.

I know that we, as doctors, would like to believe that once we’ve passed through the gauntlet of medical school and graduate medical education training, that we know everything that we need to know and shouldn’t necessarily have to be retested or do CME, but I believe that it only makes us better doctors if do. We should be life-long learners, especially in a technology-driven specialty such as pathology (that is, if we want to remain in control of lab testing). As a scientist in my life prior to medical school, I intimately understand how even dogmas can change (at one time, people thought that protein was the genetic material of the cell!). We can always learn something new and new disruptive technologies like NGS will always arise that will transform how we diagnose, prosnosticate, and treat our patients. We may not always see patients physically but must remain present within the process and that requires us to continue to test our knowledge base. Since I haven’t graduated yet, I don’t really have the experience to say whether the current mix of CME, SAM, and MOC requirements is the way to do it but in some form, we need regulations to help push us as a profession (not necessarily as an individual if we are self-directed and pro-active) in the right direction to be the best physicians for our patients.



-Betty Chung, DO, MPH, MA is a third year resident physician at Rutgers – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.


One thought on “The Importance of Continuing Medical Education, at Least in Theory…”

  1. Thanks for mentioning that even though one has graduated from medical school, science is making new discoveries on health frequently and knowledge in changing. My friend is studying to be a doctor, so I think she’d love to read this article. Thanks for the thought-provoking article on the importance of continuing medical education!

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