Alabama family physicians attend annual meeting

Family medicine physicians, residents and medical students from across the state of Alabama gathered together for the annual meeting of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) held recently in Sandestin, Florida. The meeting provided opportunities for physicians to network as well as earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.

In addition to an exhibition throughout the four-day event, the College, which is also a regional branch campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, hosted a day of lectures on Saturday, June 22, the third day of the conference. Faculty and physicians presented new information respective to their specialties.

Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, said College faculty provided very informative and relevant presentations.

“Over the years, the CME offerings have shifted so that now a majority of the educational sessions are conducted by family doctors and other primary care physicians from the faculties from our state’s family medicine training programs.”

First to lecture were Cathie Scarbrough, MD, and Chelley Alexander, MD. Scarbrough and Alexander provided updates in a variety of topics, including acne treatments for children and adolescents, guidelines in diagnosing and treating ear infections, and diagnosing type 2 diabetes in children.

They also shared apps for iPhones or Android phones that they have found useful in their practices, including Pedi STAT, which serves as a reference for pediatricians, BiliCalc, which helps determine when to use phototherapy on a patient, and Glucose Buddy, which helps diabetes patients track sugars, blood pressure, weight and medications.

Alexander is chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Scarbrough is assistant director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency.

Scott Arnold, MD, interim chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, presented new findings in adult medicine literature during the past year. Some of the areas Arnold covered included hypertension, coronary artery disease, endoscopies, vaccines and the results of studies of particular medicines and vitamin intakes.

Sports Medicine Fellow Zack Boylan, MD, followed Arnold with a presentation on pre-participation exams in sports and their importance in screening and diagnosing conditions in young athletes, in addition to screening for general health and starting a discourse with athletes about healthy habits.

Boylan said that while the pre-participation exams have not led to a significant decrease in mortality rates among student athletes, the exams are important because the secondary objective – educating students about their health – is being met, and conditions that have been caught can be life saving for the student athletes.

Finally, Anne Halli, MD, addressed issues surrounding memory loss and dementia in geriatric care. Halli distinguished dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and delirium, both of which involve a fluctuating loss of self and memory, whereas dementia is gradual. Dementia, she said, is rarely seen without another kind of illness alongside it. Halli also discussed methods of testing and treatment. 

The College’s new mission statement was displayed as part of its exhibit. The mission statement explains the overall mission of the College as “improving and promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region through leadership in medical education and primary care; the provision of high quality, accessible health care services; and scholarship.”

The AAFP has seen a loyal attendance at its annual summer meeting, with this summer being no exception, Streiffer said, adding that quite a few graduates of the College’s Family Medicine Residency also attended.  

“This has been a great venue for faculty to demonstrate their expertise while also helping to keep the content of the education highly relevant to the needs of family physicians,” he said. “And of course, the AAFP meeting is also a place where old friends get to connect, socialize and relax.”

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