Wednesday, May 30, 2007

AAPA National Conference

The 35th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Physician Assistants is about over, and it has—as usual—been an excellent CME (continuing medical education) experience. PAs are required to earn 100 hours of CME every two years, and this conference is a great way to achieve some of those. I should log about 25 hours from this week.

There are nearly a dozen sessions to choose from every hour, starting at 6:30 in the morning and going until 8:00 at night. Topics cover just about everything in family practice, as well as lots of surgical and sub-specialty areas. Sometimes it is difficult to choose. I’ve attended lectures on early detection of ovarian cancer, management of animal bites, neurologic complaints in primary care, skin cancer, atypical presentations of disease in the elderly, management of female pelvic floor dysfunction, use of hyperbaric oxygen in non-healing wounds, new treatments in rheumatoid arthritis, wilderness medicine, working with people who self-harm, acute knee injuries in sports, treatment of interstitial cystitis and chronic pelvic pain…and on, and on, and on. The lecturers have generally been quite good, and at this point my brain is just about stuffed.

One of the things I love about PA conferences, as compared to MD conferences, is the very “hands-on” approach. The focus is on clinical relevance, without a lot of dense slides and droning on about this study and that study and endless discussion of minutia (zzzzzzz…). One of the things I love about this particular conference is how empowering it feels to be in the midst of over five thousand PAs from all over the country. PAs are now licensed to practice, and have some form of prescriptive privilege in all 50 states. For a profession that only began some forty years ago, that is quite an accomplishment. Attending this conference with so many of my colleagues reminds me that I am proud to be a PA!

Philadelphia has been a nice city to visit, and we’ve been blessed with mostly pleasant weather for the last week. A bit warm for an Alaskan at 80+ degrees, and more humidity than I like, but the air conditioning works well here, and I haven’t suffered. My 22-year-old niece was able to fly up from Kentucky to join me for the Memorial Day weekend, and we had a blast together. We took a tour of Philly on an open-top double-decker English bus that was just great. It drove us around to all the historic sites—Independence Hall, the home of Betsy Ross, the Liberty Bell, the Franklin Institute, the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home of the “Rocky Steps”), and the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. You can just hop off the bus at any stop and catch the next one when you are done touring that site. And the tour guides are lively and quite funny.

One of the highlights of this trip was getting to meet two of my favorite bloggers. The wilderness medicine lecturer was Dr. Paul Auerbach, author of the gold standard textbook Wilderness Medicine, as well as the blog Medicine for the Outdoors. He has left a comment on Tundra Medicine Dreams before, so I hoped to be able to meet him. He gave three successive lectures and was surrounded by people asking questions after each one. I did manage to introduce myself and shake his hand, but there was no time to actually talk, which I regretted.

The other blogger I was delighted to meet and actually spend a few hours with was Dr. Dino from Musings of a Dinosaur, and family Darling Spouse, Jock and Fledgling, and the Rolling Peke. My niece had a great time playing Frisbee with the sons and Dr. Dino and I had lots to talk about. Did you ever meet someone and feel instantly like you had known them forever? That's what it was like. My personal interpretation is that we knew each other in a previous life. Instant connection. Dr. Dino is a delightful individual, and just as salty in real life as in the blogosphere. Add some yummy barbequed ribs, beer from the local microbrewery, and three purr-bucket kitties, and you have one fun afternoon. And to put all your minds at rest, Dr. Dino does not have scales or green skin!

The conference wraps up tomorrow, and then I’m headed back to cooler, drier climes. The puppies have probably doubled in size during my absence. And soon it will be time to go salmon fishing. The first kings are already coming up the river. Yummmmm, fresh salmon! I can’t wait.


Blogger Maggie Rosethorn said...

Sorry I missed you in PA, TPA, but things got crazy at home. I'll just have to keep reading your blog and maybe get to know you some other day. Enjoy some fresh salmon for me!

Saturday, June 02, 2007 5:13:00 PM  

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