TAG | Gary Kammer
Another Outstanding Meeting…and More
By Gary M. Kammer, M. D.
In September OAR held its fifth annual meeting at the Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark, OH. And what a meeting it was! Like 2009’s meeting, we had a record attendance. The rustic ambiance of the lodge with its flaming hearth warmed our spirits and prompted fireside chats. And—no hyperbole here—the meeting was truly outstanding.
Here are some details that tell the story. Of the 34 folks in attendance, 30 (88%) were physicians. Twenty-nine were rheumatologists, one was a P.A., and four included a Ph.D. and J.D. Of those physicians responding to our questionnaire, all reported that the course description listed in our brochure was accurate and felt that the material was presented in a balanced, unbiased manner without any commercial tilt. Several offered the following comments: “Well balanced discussion of advocacy….Very good broad based program.”
We asked our attendees to grade speakers from 0 to 4.0 based on the several criteria. These included (1) meeting learning objectives; (2) relevance to clinical practice of rheumatology; (3) quality, clarity and organization of presentation; and, (4) audience participation. Of the three morning talks on advocacy, the ratings ranged from 3.5 to 3.9. Attendees commented on the speakers’ overall knowledge, insights and understanding of the broad array of health care reform issues discussed. Specific comments included: “Wonderful talk…I learned more detailed information about the ACA (Affordable Care Act of 2010)…the option to ‘opt out’ [of Medicare] is novel to me…what’s going on with changes and legislation [affecting the practice of medicine in Ohio].”
Our line-up of clinical speakers in the afternoon fared as well. All speakers were rated 3.5 to 4.0. It doesn’t get better than that! Attendees were particularly fascinated to hear how translational research has yielded such major therapeutic advancements in the rheumatic diseases, especially in biologic therapies, as well as understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms of inflammatory myopathies and osteoarthritis. Of particular interest were the following comments: “New intracellular signal transduction inhibitors and their potential for use in RA [are exciting]….MTX monotherapy is still an impressive option….Inflammatory aspect of osteoarthritis [and the importance of] cytokines in the pathophysiology of OA…Incredibly complex subject [OA] made relatively understandable….[The review on inflammatory myopathies] was a very timely [one] for me [since] I have had a ‘run’ on these rare diseases….Reinforced the need for a DAM [Disease Activity Measurements]…Well done.”
Our informal Friday evening dinner and Saturday noon luncheon provided quality time for attendees to renew acquaintances, meet new members, and, importantly, to talk with speakers. I just happened to walk up as Dave Racer, our keynote speaker on health care reform, was waxing elegantly on what really is ailing our health care system. It was a fascinating tour de force, essentially a mini-lecture. (By the way, I recommend Dave’s booklet entitled “What really ails the U.S. health care system” for a forceful, no-holds-barred discussion of the facts and myths of our health care system.)
If you didn’t have an opportunity to join us for this exhilarating meeting, please consider attending our sixth annual meeting next Fall. More about that in the near future from Stephanie Ott, M. D. (Lancaster, OH) and Wael Jarjour, M. D. (Columbus, OH), who will be co-chairing the meeting.
Gary M. Kammer, M. D. is the current president of OAR, editor of The OAR Advocate, and a practicing rheumatologist in suburban Cleveland.