Anyone recently attending an Academy continuing medical education course probably has noticed a difference in the way information is being presented.
The Academy is no longer offering one to two-day courses on narrowly-focused subjects. Participants are not simply watching a faculty member present a lecture or demonstrate the latest surgical technique.
Instead, orthopaedic surgeons are getting the opportunity to choose from a greater variety of more comprehensive continuing medical education courses. They also are getting a chance to actually perform some of the latest surgical procedures on cadaveric specimens.
Even more exciting for participants of an Academy continuing medical education course is the fact that more positive changes are expected to occur.
The Academy has begun to expand its approach to the delivery of education, and has incorporated the basic principles of adult learning into its curriculum. Recent studies about adult learning and continuing medical education courses show that physicians want to actively participate in the learning process. They also want to learn information that they consider to be relevant to their practices as well as have an impact on patient outcomes.
The Academy has begun offering courses that are interactive and encourage more participation between faculty and registrants. Courses will be more problem-based; they will focus on immediate concerns and how to efficiently handle them in an orthopaedic practice.
Course brochures now ask registrants to identify specific problems in their practice that they would like addressed by faculty. The information supplied by registrants is forwarded to the course chairmen who make an effort to address these problem areas.
This month, the Academy offers "The Shoulder: A Comprehensive Guide for Mainstream and Controversial Issues." It will be one of the first courses exclusively designed to incorporate nonlecture-based learning.
The course will include an "interactive roundtable." For example, the April course features a "roundtable" discussion on rotator cuff disease where the moderator has developed a case study with questions to help illustrate the clinical aspects of the condition, ranging from diagnosis to treatment decisions.
The "roundtable" approach serves as an open forum, making it easier for participants and faculty to converse on a variety of clinical topics concerning the case. It also can be viewed as another way to make learning more enjoyable.
The Academy's surgical skills courses also are being examined. For example, the Academy will assess a course's effectiveness by the answers to a few questions like "Have participants' skills improved after attending a course?" and "How much of the information derived from the course will be applied to a participant's clinical practice?"
Beginning this month, a randomly-selected group of attendees at Academy surgical skills courses will be asked to complete special questionnaires. The evaluation system has been devised so that forms will be completed before, during and after the courses by participants.
Tracking course attendees' responses will enable the Academy to determine if their attendance had a direct impact on patient outcomes. It also will be used to determine the types of information they found to be the most applicable to their practices.
The information gathered from these forms will be given to course chairmen to further improve course quality. It also will be given to course faculty to help them structure their presentations and/or surgical skills demonstrations to have more relevance for those individuals attending the courses.