They are gathered around the back of the darkened room, standing too close together, eating hurriedly, non-enjoyably. A voice crackles over a 1980s-era microphone. The food is in the back, the slide projector in the front. One Friday a month, the doctor’s lounge is transformed into a lecture room.
The retired docs looking for the CME credit sit on the couches up front, the busy clinicians stand in the back looking as if they are asking themselves whether the content is worth standing the whole time on tired feet. They look like their esophaguses hurt. Eating while standing up looks awful to me.
I really like these Friday conferences. I go as much as my schedule will allow, and the Connecticut in me always seems to help me find a seat. It’s a time to learn something way outside my scope of practice. Things like robotic prostate surgery, breast cancer therapeutics, and even hyperbaric oxygen therapy have been recent topics. And as a heart rhythm doctor, almost everything in medicine is outside my scope. I know more about mexiletine than cipro. (My nurse once overheard a CCU patient say–when he saw me at the nursing station, “Hey, that’s my doctor.” His wife retorted, “He’s not a real doctor, he just installed your pacemaker.”)
But today’s lecture was a let down. Not because the speaker was bad, but because the topic was non-medical. He was an executive with the state medical association who was tasked with explaining how the upcoming healthcare reform will affect physicians.
Sounds like a timely topic, right?
The problem was, as a regular participant of social media and member of the medical blogosphere, the topics discussed were old news–like going over algebra principles in calculus. But it had to be presented this way. The audience consisted of ‘regular’ doctors. Regular in the sense that most are afraid of Facebook. Or, regular in the sense that most of their information about healthcare reform comes from Fox news or the opinion pages of the WSJ.
I found myself saying: I already knew that; I’ve read about that numerous times already; I’ve written about that before.
Give me some high-tech news. Show me some gadgets. Tell me about a new medicine. Just don’t rehash topics that are well-covered at places like GetBetterHealth, KevinMD, 33 Charts, CovertRationingBlog, DrWes, Distracible, and HappyHospitalist, just to name a few of the many highly educational online sources.
But I did learn something. This message was clear. In being informed on healthcare reform issues, staying active in the vigorous online social media conversation puts one way ahead of the flip-phone doctors.