As I mentioned last week, I spent several days at a medical education course in Kiawah, SC last weekend. The course was put on by the Medical University of South Carolina ENT department and had a total of 15 hours of educational time. The idea behind this conference was that experts in the various sub-specialties of ENT would review the medical research published in the last year and present the 5 or so articles they thought were most relevant to general ENT practitioners (such as myself).
For anyone who doesn’t know, all doctors are required to spend a certain number of hours per year in continuing medical education. The number and type of hours depends on which state one lives in and which specialty one practices. For me, I am required to take 25 hours per year, of which at least 60% needs to be ENT-related. In addition, the state of Texas requires 1 hour of ethics credit per year.
Frequently, the courses are located in nice vacation spots so that doctors and their families have fun things to do while not in the lecture room. Kiawah, SC is a beautiful resort island south of Charleston and has nice beaches and golf courses. My parents drove down from Virginia to meet me for the weekend and my Dad and I got to play the world-famous Ocean course, host of the 2012 PGA championship!
It was a lot of fun and we both played pretty well for such a hard golf course.
Anyway, what were my impressions from the course? Overall, I thought it was somewhat useful. Since it was a full overview of all subspecialties of ENT, there were some segments which were not very relevant to my day-to-day practice, mainly the facial plastics and reconstructive surgery sections.
The most helpful areas for me were the talks on rhinology (sinus), pediatric ENT, sleep medicine, and general ENT subjects. Here are some little tips and tidbits I plan to implement into my practice in the future:
1. I will start using gauze soaked in 1:1000 epinephrine during sinus surgery to help control bleeding. This apparently is a dramatic improvement over the conventional way of using Afrin-soaked gauze.
2. I will think more strongly about offering adenoidectomy to children older than 4 who need ear tubes. A recent study showed benefit in reducing ear infections and need for future sets of tubes in this age group.
3. I will continue promoting the use of oral appliances in sleep apnea patients, especially those who are unable or unwilling to regularly use a CPAP mask.
4. I plan to start using Hubbard ear tubes in certain adult patients with otitis media. These are short-lasting tubes which usually fall out 4-6 weeks after placement. For people with non-resolving ear infections which do not yet meet criteria for regular tubes, these are a good option and will provide enough middle ear ventilation to cure most patients who don’t have a long history of ear problems.
Overall, it was a pretty interesting course and I learned some good information to help my patients in the future.