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October 8, 2001

Continuing Education Program Keeps
Community Doctors Abreast of Advances

Recent Advances in Internal Medicine - a quarter-century old, continuing medical education program - typifies the public service aspect of the Health Center's mission.

The program features lectures, faculty-led panel discussions on questions submitted by the audience, and case presentations.

It began in 1976, the year after Dempsey Hospital started admitting patients. "It was organized in an attempt to update physicians on the advances that were occurring in internal medicine," says Richard Stockwell, a retired associate professor who founded the program. "We were a new medical school in a new building and we needed to fulfill our responsibilities to community doctors.

"We updated them with what was new in their disciplines," says Dr. Stockwell, "educated them about the professional and library resources available in the Health Center, and served the public by keeping their physicians up to date."

Richard Abraham of Canton, an internist in private practice, has been attending Recent Advances since the program's inception.

"I've found the program to be extremely useful," he says. "First, it keeps me informed of recent advances. But it also exposes me to the talent and the personalities of the doctors at the Health Center that are available to me as consultants, or as a resource.

"With confidence, I can tell my patients who need special consultation that I know the character, style, manner and personality of the doctor I'm referring them to," says Dr. Abraham.

Programmatically, the seminar resembles its forebear of '76: seminars are scheduled in 2001-2002 on cardiology, surgery, gastroenterology, dermatology, rheumatology, pulmonary, hypertension, hematology/oncology, geriatrics, basic science, infectious disease, and more. The passage of years shows in the topics, however: this year's basic science subject is "The Human Genome Project and Medical Science;" the integrative medicine subject is "Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine."

"We try to present state-of-the-art medicine to keep our audience up to date in internal medicine and in some specialties," said Beatriz Tendler.

Dr. Tendler, an assistant professor of medicine, an endocrinologist and a hypertension specialist, took over as course director from Stockwell. She plans and organizes the seminars with the help of administrative staff Barbara Cusati and Diane Webster.

Meetings are held Wednesdays during the school year. The registration list comprises about 100 community physicians.

Participants aren't limited to physicians, however. Nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, technicians and other clinicians regularly attend.

Instructors and speakers are usually School of Medicine faculty, with the occasional guest expert.

Faculty take special pains to be on good form when they present to their peers. "Physicians take great pride in presenting a Recent Advances talk," Tendler says. "They know they represent UConn and they want the talk to be interesting."

The audience reciprocates, Tendler says. "They're a very motivated group," she says. "They'll come to meetings even when the weather's bad. It speaks highly of the community physicians that they're so eager to keep up to date.

The course costs $300 for physicians; $60 for non-physician medical professionals, and is free for interns, residents and fellows. Continuing Medical Education credits are available. For information, contact Barbara Cusati at (860) 679-2898.

Pat Keefe