By Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, March 01, 2011I often find myself thinking that I’m lucky to be a dermatologist. This thought is usually triggered by certain predictable events. The first is when I read the applications to the residency program at my institution each fall. Usually by the end of the first letter of a tall stack I’m completely convinced that I’d never get into a program if I were applying today. Another of these triggering events is the Academy’s Annual Meeting. Not only are there so many lectures that represent the breadth of our field, but also lectures to help us to grow professionally in our unique practice situations. This year’s meeting had one more feature that reminded me of how lucky we are — the number of dermatologists and Academy staff working to try to help us weather some of the changes coming up in Washington. It reminds me of how dermatology, and medicine in general, is not an individual sport, but rather a collaborative effort. We learn so much from each other and working together enables us to accomplish much more than would otherwise be possible. With that in mind I trust that you will find much in this month’s issue to learn from our wonderful writers.
The first article you’ll want to read is the one on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, known as IPAB. The entire house of medicine is trying to understand how this body will work and who will serve on it. That it will have lots of clout is quite clear, though. This article walks us through what is known and what is at stake for dermatologists.
We all know that we need to understand our staff’s needs, but knowing it and doing it well are two different things. Therefore, we all will want to read the article on best strategies for introducing staff to an electronic medical record system. It is a paradigm-changer: Staff without computer skills are at a distinct disadvantage. But long-serving, dedicated staff don’t necessarily need to be carelessly cast aside. We can all benefit from a greater understanding of how to implement these electronic changes while keeping our most valuable resource, our staff, aboard the practice ship.
Clinically, there are two articles you’ll definitely want to peruse as well. The first is one about PDT in the treatment of acne. This exciting, evolving area is clearly a work in progress, but I like knowing that more options are being developed to help in the management of acne. This update is a good review of where we are with optimizing treatment protocols and working out solutions to some of the potential side effects such as the discomfort of the treatment and persistent erythema.
I also had the opportunity to talk with Robert Kirsner, MD, about his study on the management of diabetic foot ulcers. I appreciated his practical advice about intervening early with more aggressive approaches to try to get these ulcers to heal. Maybe if we continue to figure out how to optimally treat this frustrating problem for patients we’ll have more tax revenues to go around.
A column that I really want everyone to be sure to see is Balance in Practice. This is the inaugural column in a series by our fellow dermatologists about how they juxtapose their life outside of medicine with their practices. This month we hear from Risa Jampel, MD, talking about the role of ice dancing in her life, and how the marriage of the rink and her office keeps her brain focused and happy. Clearly Risa does not do her charting while gliding on the ice, but it feeds her ability to take care of patients day in and day out. Hope it makes some of you consider group lessons if you always were thinking about trying to learn. If ice dancing doesn’t do it for you, I’d love to hear from you about what does.
I hope you are enjoying our new format. The reception we received in New Orleans was quite positive. Be sure to be in touch with your thoughts about our articles, our format, or your concerns for dermatology. Remember I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your reading and have a good month.
Abby S. VanVoorhees, MD