This summer, primary care NPs and PAs, who increasingly face the challenging clinical conundrum of metabolic and endocrine diseases, have a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge—and therefore their patient care—in these areas. The first Metabolic and Endocrine Disease Summit (MEDS) will be held from July 28 to 30 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Orlando.
Sponsored by Clinician Reviews and the Primary Care Metabolic Group, MEDS is designed to provide “practical, case-based advice on how to really manage patients with diabetes” and other endocrinopathies, says Chris Sadler, MA, PA-C, CDE, Co-Chair of MEDS and President-Elect of the American Society of Endocrine PAs (ASEPA). “Attendees are not just going to get the typical statistics.”
MEDS is unique in that it was designed with primary care providers in mind. Other endocrinology-themed meetings may focus more on updating specialists about what is happening within the field.
“Those meetings don’t teach how to tackle the primary care presentation of an endocrine or metabolic disease—how to work it up and have a good thought process on how to manage it, whether the case needs to be referred out or can be handled in the primary care setting,” says Scott Urquhart, PA-C, DFAAPA, Chair of MEDS and Immediate Past President of ASEPA. “With the shortage of endocrinologists, we need to educate our primary care providers on how to manage these diseases, because we can’t do it all.”
DIABETES IN DEPTH, AND MORE
During the 2.5-day program, NPs and PAs can earn up to 18.5 hours of CE/CME credit while attending lectures on a variety of topics. As Christine Kessler, MN, CNS, ANP, BC-ADM, Co-Chair of MEDS, says, “What isn’t covered? There will be everything from the ‘big ones’—diabetes, thyroid disorders, obesity, and osteoporosis—all the way down to hypogonadism.”
“On Day 1 and on Day 3, which is a half-day, we want to focus on areas that may not get enough attention and that may need clarification on how to handle them,” Urquhart says, “because a lot of these conditions can be worked up in primary care offices.”
These areas include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hypercalcemia, adrenal dysfunctions, dyslipidemia, polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity, and vitamin D deficiency.
“A lot of primary care clinicians have expressed—at least in the past—a lack of comfort with managing some of these diagnoses,” Sadler says. “Considering how much disease we’re seeing in these areas, [this meeting] will really enhance their clinical practice and their ability to diagnose and treat these illnesses in an appropriate way.”
Day 2 of the meeting is what Urquhart calls “Diabetes Day” and will focus on this most common disorder “so people aren’t being pulled on track and off track again.” Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes will be covered, with lectures aimed at helping clinicians navigate the therapeutic agents used to treat type 2 diabetes (there are almost a dozen classes), become more comfortable with insulin, and understand the appropriate use of finger-stick versus continuous glucose monitoring.
Diabetes is a complex topic, in part because patients with type 2 diabetes are an extremely heterogeneous population. The “one size fits all” approach of most guidelines may not adequately address the needs of an individual patient, as Sadler explains:
“You have patients at one end of the spectrum who are extremely insulin-resistant and you have other patients at the other end who are extremely insulin-deficient—and you have everyone in between. That’s what is so complex—understanding the nuances of someone’s diabetes, in terms of what is the appropriate work-up to differentiate one patient from another and why you would use different agents in one patient versus another.”
It is the hope of the MEDS chairs that attendees will leave the meeting with “current and relevant information that they can use right away in practice,” Kessler says.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
In addition to the in-depth coverage of a wide variety of metabolic and endocrine disorders, another key component of MEDS is the interaction. The faculty is comprised of NPs and PAs who are experts in the field. While they may conduct clinical research or present at meetings, they are not researchers or lecturers by trade but rather clinicians who are in the field, seeing patients. This means they can provide “clinical pearls that you’ll never learn from a book; they come from dealing with these disorders day in and day out,” as Kessler says. And the faculty members do want attendees to ask questions; part of each session will be devoted to Q&A (not that queries must be limited to the classroom).
“It will be like having an endocrine consultant right there for you,” Kessler says. “So it’s not just didactic, with somebody speaking. Clinicians can approach us with certain of their own challenging cases, and then we can help them with that.”
“The faculty will be there the whole time,” Sadler adds, “so people will be around to converse with at breaks or in between sessions. I think there will be a lot more interaction with faculty than you typically get at conferences.”
In fact, Sadler hopes one of the things NPs and PAs will take from MEDS is a network of colleagues they can contact for “further dialogue” later. And those colleagues will be representatives of both professions, since MEDS brings PAs and NPs together to address common educational needs.
“There are physician meetings, PA meetings, and NP meetings, but in the office setting, we work together,” Urquhart says. “There are some differences in training and philosophy, but put in the same clinical setting, we are expected to have the same outcomes. Quality of care won’t be compromised based on the fact that you’re a PA, an NP, or an MD, as long as you have been trained and the practice you’re working with fully understands your competencies and skill set.”
Skill sets can be enhanced through educational initiatives such as MEDS, and if attendees leave the meeting with “confidence, and maybe even a bit of a passion for endocrinology,” as Kessler hopes, the end result will improve more than just their own professional lives.
“This meeting brings providers together and focuses on our common interest,” Sadler says, “which is taking care of patients.”
Information about MEDS, including registration, can be found online at www.MEDSummit.qhc.com.