I just came back from Las Vegas where I attended the 2013 Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery Symposium (PAGS) December 12-14 at the Venetian/Palazzo Resort.
The symposium is offered every year in Las Vegas. It offers 19.5 CME credits and costs $995 for physicians in addition to $495 for an optional non-CME Practice Management
The course has probably been popularized by the famous names of its directors: Dr. Mickey Karram, professor of Ob/Gyn and Urology at the University of Cincinnati and Dr. Tommaso Falcone, professor and chair Department of Obsetetrics & Gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Other speakers included Dr. Michael Baggish from the University of California in San Francisco, Dr. Amy Garcia, Medical Director at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dr. John Gebhart director of Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Dr. Javier F. Magrina Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Dr. Mark Walters, Vice Chair of Gynecology Center of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
It was a delight listening to Dr. Garcia talk about office hysteroscopic sterilization and supracervical hysterectomies, she has Dr. Kate O’Hanlan’s stage charisma and sense of humour. It is also refreshing to see a female leader among many male leaders that constitute the faculty of this conference. She spoke from the listen-to-what-the-patient-wants perspective.
Dr. Amanda Fader was a PAGS’ special keynote speaker. She is the director of Minimally Invasive Surgery MIS at the Department of Gynecology/Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I was thrilled to see her again. Dr. Fader was an oncology fellow at University Hospitals Case Medical Center UHCMC where I did my OBGYN training. She delivered an analysis of the cost of different hysterectomy techniques. She also discussed laparoscopic single-site surgery (LESS) and why it is her approach of choice.
Thumbs up for:
- The venue – you can not possibly beat Las Vegas for a conference destination. The Venetian/Palazzo hotel is also a great facility.
- offering free wifi which allows social media interaction even thought the only one, besides myself, tweeting from the conference was their sponsor @OBGmanagement.
- Presenting all different approaches to hysterectomy, even though each presenter was obviously biased towards their approach of choice, the conference as a whole was not.
- Having the whole syllabus and presentations available online so attendees can follow on their tablets/laptops.
- presenting “Pelvic and Abdominal Anatomy from the Laparoscopic Surgeon’s view” by Dr. Falcone. This is definitely not a topic that was covered in medical school or even residency training. Even my old Anatomy books did not have much to say/draw about that. It is a much needed topic especially that our field is heading fast toward minimally invasive surgery.
Space for improvement:
- Add hands-on training. A surgeon can watch videos online and for free all day long without having to travel to a conference. The biggest asset of a surgical conference in my opinion is the presence on hands-on training. This will help build confidence that one can take back to their operating room. It is also safer to try what you learn on a pelvic simulator or cadaver lab first before you try them on a patient.
- Focus the topics. The course is comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics in gynecologic surgery. This is a double edged sword. You end up feeling you learned a little about a lot of topics but this is easily achievable with personal learning efforts.
- Avoid muscle-flexing. I definitely did not want to spend an hour watching surgeries that I will never perform, like laparoscopic endometriosis resection from bladder and bowel or laparoscopic ureter reanastomosis. (To PAGS’ defence, this was during a breakout session where I had the chance to choose another topic.) I am not against watching those and I am sure there is a lot to learn from them, but a short conference is not the right place for it. The topics should be high yield.
The Grand Finale
The non-CME part was a great plus. I really enjoyed Dr. Baum’s lecture on how to make our practice more efficient and more productive. Dr. Neil H. Baum, an Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is such an enthusiastic and entertaining speaker, his talks were magical. Literally, he used magic during his talks, it helps that he is also a professional magician. It is refreshing to see physicians taking the lead on social media and catching up with the pace of technology and marketing. His talk on “Using social media to get to the top of Google” is astounding.