Ralph F. Józefowicz, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, said he has always been impassioned about education. As the associate chair for education in the department of neurology, the course director for the second year medical student “Mind, Brain, and Behavior” course, the Neurology Clerkship Director, and the Neurology Residency Program Director at the University of Rochester, it was a natural transition for the distinguished neurologist to become involved with education at the AAN.
Dr. Józefowicz joined the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee in 1989 and chaired it from 1999–2003. In 1994 he joined the Education Committee and has served as chair since 2003. He has also served on the Meeting Management Committee since 2003, and was on the International Education Subcommittee for six years.
Among his other appointments, Dr. Józefowicz has been a visiting professor of neurology at the Collegium Medicum at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, since 1992, and has been an Honorary Professor at the university since 2003.
Dr. Józefowicz's academic focus includes research in medical education; international medicine, focusing on Poland and Eastern Europe; and education of medical students and house officers, using case-based teaching and clinical-basic science correlation.
In time for the AAN 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, Dr. Józefowicz spoke to Neurology Today about his role on the Education Committee and the exciting agenda lined up for the meeting.
TELL US ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE AAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The Education Committee is one of the major committees of the Academy, and its role is essentially two-fold: to plan the education program for the annual meeting, which it does through the annual meeting subcommittee chaired by Dr. Karen Roos, and to oversee neurologic education in general for medical students, neurology residents, neurology fellows, and neurologists in practice.
TELL US ABOUT THE COMMITTEE'S ROLE IN PLANNING THE EVENT AND DEVELOPING NEW PROGRAMS
The Education Committee plans all the education programs at the Annual Meeting at least a year in advance of the meeting. To plan for the Boston meeting, for example, we first established topic work groups in January 2006. Each of the 15 topic work groups represents one of the major subspecialties in neurology, and a member of the Education Committee or Annual Meeting Subcommittee, a member of an Academy section, a general neurologist, two content experts, and an AAN staff member. The work groups met twice via conference call last year, before and after the 2006 Annual Meeting in San Diego, to review the course offerings using attendance data and feedback from meeting attendees and auditors. In addition, suggestions for new course offerings may come from AAN sections, individual AAN members, and industry. The Education Committee, at its June meeting last year in Chicago, used this input to plan the course offerings for this year's meeting.
WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR?
One new initiative is the basic science curriculum for neurology residents, which is primarily intended to help neurology residents learn the basic sciences on which clinical neurology is founded. This is detailed in the Neurology Residency Review Committee (RRC) program requirements for residency education in neurology. Two half-day courses will be offered each year on the first Saturday of the annual meeting, and the entire program will cover six topics over a three-year cycle, including include neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neuropathology, neural development, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, and molecular biology and genetics. At the end of three years, a comprehensive basic science syllabus will be available for residents on the AAN website. This curriculum will also help residents prepare for the AAN Residency In-service Training Examination (RITE). The topics offered at the 2007 meeting will be neuropharmacology and neuropathology.
Also, this year we have 20 new courses, and we will schedule lunches during the five full-day clinical courses, such as dementia and stroke, to discuss coding issues. These lunches were planned with input from the Practice Committee to provide practitioners with the most up-to-date information about proper coding for common neurological conditions and treatments.
COULD YOU HIGHLIGHT THE WAYS IN WHICH THE COMMITTEE TRIES TO ENSURE THAT CORPORATE AND PHARMACEUTICAL SPONSORSHIP DOES NOT INFLUENCE THE CONFERENCE PROGRAMS?
The Education Committee and AAN staff are very knowledgeable about the pharma guidelines and we do everything we can to avoid even the perception that there is a conflict of interest. We realize the importance of pharmaceutical support for the annual meeting but we insist on maintaining a strict firewall between industry support and educational programming. All industry sponsorship of our programs consists of unrestricted educational grants. Industry has absolutely no influence on selection of course topics or faculty, which is completely under the jurisdiction of the Education Committee. We also monitor this during the Annual Meeting and if there are violations to our policies by the pharmaceutical companies, these are discussed at the Meeting Management Committee meeting and sanctions are imposed as appropriate. We also do not allow any industry-sponsored satellite symposia, which are usually held before or after the official meeting. We had satellite symposia about fifteen years ago but eliminated them because they were perceived as biased and also competed with our regularly scheduled courses.
COULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT INDUSTRY NIGHT?
This is new this year. On Tuesday evening, which traditionally has no educational programming, five different pharmaceutical companies will provide an update about what new drugs are in the pipeline. No CME credits will be given for these programs, thus avoiding any conflict of interest.
HOW ARE YOU INVOLVED IN THE INTERNATIONAL ATTENDEE SUMMIT?
The International Attendee Summit is an initiative of the AAN Membership Committee, chaired by Dr. Gregory Cascino. Almost 2,500 international members, approximately one-quarter of our registrants, attend the meeting. Although we are the American Academy of Neurology, we are aware of the major impact that international attendees have on the annual meeting as well as on the Academy. In fact, most abstract submissions to the scientific program, as well as manuscript submissions to the journal Neurology, come from our colleagues outside of the United States. The Academy leadership is keenly interested in feedback from our international attendees concerning the annual meeting, and what we can do to improve the meeting for them. I will be at the summit on the panel and am very interested in hearing what our international attendees would like to have included in the educational program.
DO YOU FORESEE AN INCREASE IN REGISTRANTS THIS YEAR? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS TO?
From what I heard so far this year, pre-registration for the meeting is at an all-time high. We expect that the Boston meeting is going to be very popular and very well-attended for several reasons: we haven't been in Boston for many years; Boston is a popular destination and has a strong neurology tradition; and it's an easy destination for European neurologists. The Hynes Convention Center is located in Copley Square and near the Back Bay area, which is a popular part of Boston.
AAN MEETING PLANNER: EDUCATION & OTHER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Practice Colloquium: Saturday, April 28, 3:30 pm-5:30 pm. Learn how the AAN is addressing the demands for pay-for-performance – aligning financial incentives with the provision of care. Free to all meeting registrants.
Basic Science Resident Curriculum: Saturday, April 28, Resident Basic Science I: Neuro-pharmacology: 9 am-12:45 pm; Resident Basic Science II: Neuropathology: 2:15 pm-6 pm. Registration required.
Coding Lunches: Hour-long lunches on specific coding issues will take place from 12 pm-1 pm for these full-day courses: movement disorders and multiple sclerosis (Sunday, April 29); dementia and headache (Monday, April 30); cerebrovascular disease (Friday, May 4).
Education Colloquium: Monday, April 30, 9 am-12 pm. Faculty explore potential areas for interdisciplinary interactions in education between neurology and psychiatry, from residency and fellowship levels through provision of specialized care.
ABPN MOC Informational Session. Monday, April 30, 3:30 pm-4:30 pm. Meet with representatives of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to learn more about maintenance of certification and changes with recertification. Free and open to all registrants.
NINDS Clinical Research Collaboration Colloquium: Tuesday, May 1, 1 pm-5 pm. Learn how the Clinical Research Collaboration (CRC) – launched by the NINDS to promote translational research – can help you complete the regulatory requirements of research and how you can become a CRC-certified physician-investigator. Free and open to all; no registration required.
Scientific and Career Milestones Luncheon: Wednesday, May 2, 12 pm-1:30 pm, Sheraton Boston Hotel, Grand Ballroom. Don't miss the presentation of this year's scientific and career milestone awards, as well as the appearance of Academy-award winning actress Dame Julie Andrews, recipient of the 2007 Public Leadership in Neurology Award. Tickets are available for $40. Medical students and junior members may attend this event at no cost by requesting a ticket.