An innovative CME program in cardiology for primary care practitioners

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The authors describe an innovative continuing medical education (CME) program they developed to improve the ability of community practitioners to manage common cardiology problems. The program includes an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) with nine standardized patient (SP) stations. The SPs are trained to use checklists to assess the examinees' clinical skills, and to enter the checklist data directly into computers located within each of the examining rooms. Checklists cover the participants' knowledge of cardiology, and their interviewing, physical-examination, and counseling skills. The computer immediately generates detailed individual reports, which include a skills report, reflecting performance of core skills across all nine stations with group means for comparison, and an omissions report, listing items missed in each case for each participant and, again, comparing the results with group means. Participants review and discuss their performances and then discuss identified learning issues with a cardiologist. The cardiologist also reviews state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment for the cases presented in the OSCE. Participants have reported having a high regard for the program and have indicated that the program has left them better prepared to deal with clinical cardiology issues.

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