Learning From Each Other
BIMDA’s emphasis on medical education creates world-class conference for physicians
How do leading physicians maintain, develop and increase their knowledge, skills and professional performance to better serve their patients? According to the American Medical Association, it is through continuing medical education (CME).
Few local organizations have risen as quickly to meet this demand than the Brevard Indo-American Medical and Dental Association (BIMDA). What began informally in 1996 by Dr. Mahesh Soni, a pediatrician, and Glad Kurian, a senior consultant at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Windermere, Orlando, as a gathering of Indian-American doctors has grown to a 180-member force moving forward with education, community support and charitable giving.
Now an organizer of nationally significant medical conferences, Kurian, the organization’s executive director, has attracted the attention of global medical leaders who come to share new advances in patient care, as well as the latest medical research and development.
“Learning from each other is our focus and the benefit is far-reaching to our patients locally, nationally and globally,” says Kurian. “We want to make a difference, and the Indian-American medical community is quickly doing so. The practice of medicine today will benefit those who form strategic partnerships and share resources for greater efficiency of human and capital investment.”
CONFERENCE OF THE HIGHEST CALIBER
At its November 19, 2011 Annual Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference at Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, more than 450 physicians and health care professionals gathered for a day of lectures, presentations and networking opportunities.
“The emphasis on outreach and education has excelled and we have featured nationally recognized speakers who are experts in their fields and upcoming technologies, as well as invasive procedures,” explains Dr. Prakash Reddy, president of BIMDA.
The daytime CME presentations included:
- Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: Prakash Reddy, M.D., F.C.C.P., D.A.B.S.M. of MIMA, board-certified in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.
- Determining Prognosis – Cancer and Non-Cancer Diseases: Mohan Shah, M.D. of Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, board-certified in internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine; medical director of Brevard FL, Program 18.
- Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia: Ashish Dalal, M.D. of Space Coast Cancer Center, board-certified in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology.
- Update on Percutaneous Therapies for Aortic Valve Stenosis: Nirat Beohar, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I., director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.
- Ablation of Complex Arrhythmias: Jason Jacobson, M.D., director of Electrophysiology, Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.
- Novel Robotic Microsurgery for Male Infertility & Chronic Groin Pain: Sijo J. Parekattil, M.D., director of Robotic Surgery & Urology at Winter Haven Hospital; assistant professor of the Department of Urology and adjunct professor of Bioengineering at University of Florida.
The conference concluded with an evening gala dinner that hosted keynote speaker Dr. George Thomas, chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine. Dr. Thomas addressed a packed hall that included physicians, health care leaders, educators, supporters and distinguished guests. The topic, “What Every Physician Should Know: An Update From The Board,” was received with pin-drop silence as Dr. Thomas elaborated on the legal aspects of practicing medicine.
The evening gala also gave guests a rare opportunity to meet leaders from all local hospital systems. A traditional “two-minute update” started with the introduction of Brevard County’s newest leader Steve Johnson, CEO of Health First. This was followed by a brief update by Steve Patonai, CEO of Wuesthoff Health System and then JJ Parrish, III, CPA, chairman of Parrish Medical Center. The speakers were then followed up by Mike Means, president emeritus and Larry Garrison, past executive vice president and COO of Health First.
FUNDING FOR CONFERENCES IN AN ACCOUNTABLE MEDICINE WORLD
Funding for the conference is headed by Dr. Ashok Shah, sponsorship chair/conference co-director, while grant writing and final selection of speakers is managed by Dr. Mahesh Soni, CME director, along with Dr. Reddy.
“Funding for educational conferences is certainly available, but in today’s world of accountable medicine, one has to follow strict guidelines, a rigid timeline for application and provide funding decision makers with adequate proposal material to evaluate and substantiate the need for the educational talk in the health care market,” explains Kurian.
BIMDA PHYSICIANS WEIGH IN
“We have a chance to network, exchange ideas, learn from CME and at the same time contribute to charities. This is how we help the community,” says Dr. Gobivenkata Balaji, president-elect of BIMDA. “Health care professionals work long hours and don’t have time to network, but BIMDA provides that opportunity. My goal is that every health care professional participates and interfaces with each other as an integrated health care team which will, in the end, help the patient. For 2012 we have plans to have more health care professionals involved and provide excellent CME programs. We are blessed to have three major health systems being part of our efforts.”
Dr. Soni reflects on the contribution of his organization since 1996. “In the early 90s we used to get together informally and sponsor one or two topics. I thought about creating a mainstream organization that could collaborate on medical and cultural contributions to our community. The main focus was medical education and research. We slowly developed it into a formal organization and we have since contributed to quality CME activity in the county for Central Florida physicians. Together, with the partnership of our regional health care providers, we do a good job bringing national and international expertise for our physicians to experience,” he says.
“Community outreach is particularly important for Indian-American physicians because many of us are raised and educated in India and it is important for us to integrate with health care providers and other physicians in the community,” explains Dr. Shah. “It’s important to assimilate Indian-American physicians with their counterparts in the community. We try to maintain our cultural and philosophical values while, at the same time, assimilate into the culture and values of our respective communities.”
THE CONFERENCE’S THOUGHT LEADERS
Dr. Joseph McClure, chairman of Holmes Regional Medical Center’s CME Committee, explains that physicians need 40 hours of CME every two years to maintain licensure. “It’s important to note that BIMDA has gone above and beyond to provide a high quality conference. It really shows how unique the BIMDA group is. They have a good time and we are very happy to support them,” he says.
BIMDA’s annual conference has drawn the likes of leading physicians from around the state and country, eager to network and share their expertise. Take, for example Dr. Sijo Parekattil, director of Robotic Surgery & Urology at Winter Haven Hospital, who presented information on advanced surgical techniques to the medical community.
“Currently microsurgical procedures are technically challenging. We think robots help because they eliminate hand tremor, provide scaling of motion and offer enhanced optical (digital) magnification,” explains Dr. Parekattil. “This allows the microsurgeon to perform more procedures in a shorter period of time. It may even lead to a decrease in health care costs for the patient.”
Dr. Parekattil expands on the benefit of physicians and health care providers learning microsurgical techniques. He hopes that CME events stimulate interest so more physicians and surgeons are trained in this area.
Chairman of Medicine and Chief of the Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Dr. Gervasio Lamas also presented at the conference. He is quick to point out the value of BIMDA’s initiatives to educate the medical community.
“Regular exposure to new medical research and procedures is so very important for the physician and all medical professionals. You can’t learn everything at once, and a physician can find him/herself seeing patients all day without the opportunity to learn what is new. CME events allow for that. You never know when you might learn about a new procedure that can help one of your (critically ill) patients,” says Dr. Lamas. “Along with the advanced procedures and research knowledge, the events allow for networking among physicians and the medical community. In the end it helps us provide the best practices/best care for our patients.”
LEADERSHIP IN OTHER AREAS
BIMDA is a leading member affiliate of AAPI in the state of Florida and its successful method of organizational management is often viewed by several other groups statewide as a model to emulate. At one time Kurian served as Honorary Executive Director for five of the state’s six AAPI affiliates.
While medical education for physicians is a top priority for BIMDA, so is giving back to the community, and Brevard County is the beneficiary of such benevolence. The all-volunteer non-profit group helps physicians develop leadership in their community through professional networking events with local hospital foundations and health care providers.
“It is critical to the medical care community that physicians understand the people they treat and the community in which they live,” says Kurian. “For the Indian-American medical community, that means taking medicine and healing to a whole new level.”
BIMDA’s 10th Annual Medical Expo and CME Symposium will be held April 28, 2012 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place.