I thoroughly enjoyed my recent visit back to Boston, Massachusetts. It felt like forever since I sat in a room with so many people from other institutions, learning about the most recent medical advances and strengthening my clinical knowledge. In between learning about the effectiveness of SGLT-2 inhibitors in heart failure and updates in VTE prophylaxis during the SGIM New England regional meeting, I reflected on how difficult it has been for me to carve out time to stay on top of the growth of medical advances and maintain my continuing medical education (CME). Routinely, I look through my calendar to map out my administrative priorities for the week. My calendar is often filled with meetings about medical and surgical departmental requests, quality and safety performance measures, healthcare labor shortages, concerns about coordinating transitions in care, bourgeoning virtual models for healthcare delivery in both acute and ambulatory settings, resident education priorities, and grant funding and philanthropic activities. In addition, I do my best to regularly meet with trainees and attendings physicians from underrepresented backgrounds and attempt to carve out time to meet with our system-embedded research unit to examine our portfolio and ensure it’s appropriately aligned with our system’s population health priorities. Like many SGIM members, I am happy to have a diverse mix of job activities to keep me engaged and fulfilled. However, with all the work-related activities, a persistent gap is the lack of protected time I’ve carved out for maintaining my continued medical education.
A few months ago, I was asked to be commencement speaker at a local high school and had the opportunity to speak to the kids about wonderful advances in science they’ll see over the coming years. In the mid-1990s, during the time I was in residency training, there was great debate about the appropriateness of coronary artery bypass surgery versus coronary angioplasty in multivessel heart disease, drug eluding cardiac stents had yet to be commonly used, and AZT was a relatively new treatment option for HIV. In the decades since, science has evolved so quickly that being a minimally competent physician requires consistent effort to learn to avoid atrophy and one’s skill set, potentially placing patients at risk. Research shows that physicians who maintained their board certification (one measure of ongoing clinical competency) are more likely to: (1) improve their clinical knowledge, (2) improve their patients’ clinical outcomes, and (3) avoid disciplinary action and medical license suspension.1-2 Thus, prioritizing ways of promoting continuing medical education among our members is a critically important priority for our society. Prior literature has shown that physicians report the lack of dedicated funding, limited time available for travel to educational meetings, limitations on protected time, and limited options for asynchronous education as barriers to maintaining their CME.3 I am pleased with the efforts educational leaders and staff within SGIM have taken to address so many of these barriers thereby facilitating opportunities for our members to continue developing their skill sets as clinicians, educators, and researchers.
My recent experience at the regional meeting provided examples of a few ways that New England region members could benefit from well-organized primary care updates and provided meaningful content for members with a hospitalist focus and did so with a low cost of attendance and without the burden of extensive travel time to more distant locations. Additionally, many of our upcoming regional meetings will take place virtually enabling content to be delivered in a way that offers a wide range of opportunities to those who are unable to travel or don’t feel safe traveling in the current environment. SGIM also continues to see growth in the impact of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, our official journal, a great source of peer-reviewed science of interest to the academic internal medicine physician. Another way that SGIM is working to deliver value to its members as through our online platform GIMLearn. Through the hard work of our education committee and GIMLearn steering committee we have a platform that now contains highlights from #SGIM22, free webinar series on a wide range of clinical and policy topics and the ability to earn many CME/MOC credits related to sex and gender wellness. Also, I strongly believe in the focus on educational opportunities that presented in our annual meetings. In the issue of the Forum, our #SGIM23 program committee leadership provides an update as to the meeting activities and speakers, many of which are intended to maximize the educational value of your society membership.
This is a great time to participate in SGIM meetings, both regionally and nationally, as so much is being delivered as an efficient means to promote CME. I urge each of us to further explore GIMLearn and contemplate ways in which we can share our academic teachings to the broader society.