Crafting a “well-rounded” program


“I have long had an interest in medical education for medical students, trainees, and faculty and I wanted to do more of it – with a number of mentors encouraging me along the way,” he said. “I have planned and coordinated teaching sessions needed for maintenance of board certification, which is similar to what we will present at HM19. Based on that experience, I applied to be on SHM’s annual conference committee, starting in 2012 for the planning of Hospital Medicine 2013. I believe I have been preparing myself all along to take on this role.”

A well-rounded program

The HM19 educational program will be well rounded, Dr. Smith said, offering clinical updates on topics such as sepsis, heart failure, and new clinical practice guidelines.

“You will see a big focus on wellness and how to avoid burnout, as well as other sessions on how to develop and sustain a career in hospital medicine,” he said. Another important HM19 theme will be the delivery of new models of population health and accountable care and their impact on both patients and hospital operations.

The 2019 agenda emphasizes other interactive formats, such as the “Great Debates,” where experts in the field are paired to debate clinical conundrums in hospital medicine. The number of Great Debates has grown from one on perioperative medicine at the 2017 annual conference, to three in 2018, and now to seven planned for 2019. “This format is very popular. We’re also planning ‘Medical Jeopardy,’ with three brilliant master clinicians in a quiz show format, and two ‘Stump the Professor’ sessions with expert diagnosticians,” Dr. Smith said.

It’s important to make every session at the conference interactive to engage attendees in learning from, and talking to, experts in the field, he said. “But it’s also important for some of them to be more entertaining in approach as a way to encourage learning. We know that this actually increases retention of information.”

The annual conference course director typically is selected several years in advance, in order to plan for the time commitment that will be required, and spends the year before this term as assistant course director. “It is a big honor to serve as course director. It’s fun and exciting to work with such a talented and diverse committee, but it’s also a lot of work,” Dr. Smith acknowledged. “I reviewed all 450 session proposals from this year’s open call for course content. The volume of emails is pretty outstanding, and I was extremely busy with conference planning for a season.”

Dr. Smith has continued to pursue his full-time commitments at Emory, without getting dedicated time off for planning the SHM conference. “But as a parent of three young children, I already feel busy all the time,” he said. “I put in a lot of late nights, but I found a way to make it work.”


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