Non-Clinical Topics   /   Pharmacy

Conference Cancellations Push DoD, VA Clinicians to Find Other CME Sources

By U.S. Medicine

By Sandra Basu

WASHINGTON — With stricter oversight of government conference spending, medical and pharmacy components within DoD and VA are working to ensure providers are still getting their necessary continuing medical education.

“In response to government-wide financial constraints on travel and face-to-face training events, VA and other federal agencies have significantly increased scrutiny of travel to conferences and other training events,” a VA spokesperson said in a written statement.

In the past year, several important federal conferences have fallen victim to budgetary issues. The American Pharmacists Association cancelled its 2013 Joint Forces Pharmacy Seminar (JFPS) in Orlando, which had been scheduled for Oct. 20-23, as a direct result of the federal government shutdown “and related circumstances beyond our control,” according to the conference website.

“The travel restrictions associated with the shutdown directly prevent our primary audience of Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard pharmacy personnel, speakers and leadership from attending,” the conference website explained.

The 2013 annual Military Health System conference also was cancelled earlier this year.

“We are disappointed that we needed to take this step. But, the ongoing federal budget issues required the Military Departments and OSD to make a series of near-term financial decisions to reduce overall spending in the Department,” according to a Jan. 18, 2013, notice from DoD Health Affairs.

While the annual AMSUS-The Society of Federal Health Professionals conference still is scheduled to take place this year, AMSUS made the difficult decision in 2012 to cancel its conference related to strict new conference guidelines.

The Military Health Services conference was well attended in 2012, as shown in this photo.

Continuing Education

In DoD, a variety of modes to obtain continuing medication education are being offered to healthcare professionals despite the availability of fewer conferences.

An Air Force spokesperson explained that, even in a fiscally constrained environment, all of its medical personnel are still able to attend conferences and events that are determined to be mission critical in order to obtain needed CE and CME.

“Other venues of education include online courses, local events, and webinars. All of the options allow us to both ensure the capability of our personnel to fulfill the medical mission with appropriate fiscal controls in today’s constrained environment,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a DoD official told U.S. Medicine that a speaker series is one recent initiative started at the Defense Health Headquarters to help providers/employees get CME and GME.

“We reviewed the cancelled [2013] MHS conference agenda and contacted those personnel who were scheduled to speak to now speak at the Defense Health Headquarters. Those speakers were already approved for credits, so it was an easy one,” the DoD spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury already allows DHA to participate in its webinars, which provide credits. In addition, DHA headquarters also has approached neighboring military institutions such as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Bethesda, MD, to inquire about the feasibility of presenting GME and CME seminars via video teleconference to Defense Health Headquarters staff.

“As we transition into the DHA, we have planned to look at many other opportunities within our confines to identify instructors and opportunities to serve our clinical customers,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, online training is an important component for continuing education for Army pharmacists. Army Pharmacy Program Manager & Pharmacy Consultant to the Surgeon General Col. John Spain explained there are “multiple venues for obtaining CE with the majority of pharmacists completing CE online and through webinar type presentations.”

“Army Pharmacy uses Internet tools such as Defense Connect Online (DCO) to provide targeted education on important topics related to Army Medicine priorities,” he explained in a written statement.

While he said that conference cancellations will not necessarily make it more challenging for pharmacists to obtain CE, he did point to the important value of conferences, such as the recently cancelled Joint Forces Pharmacy Seminar.

“Most medical conferences invite all members of the profession and provide a wide arrange of CE topics. The purpose of the JFPS was to provide targeted CE learning opportunities specific to military needs and initiatives,” he told U.S. Medicine in a written statement.

He explained that at the conference “significant effort is put forth by pharmacists and technicians to prepare presentations and posters that aim to share best practices, research efforts, and inform participants of clinically relevant information.”

“Attendance at a conference allows for many intangible benefits that take place in discussions after presentations and supports the development of networks to continue the sharing of knowledge. It is uninterrupted time away from the daily demands of work to focus on learning, improving performance, and engendering commitment and involvement in DoD Pharmacy Initiatives,” he said.

Related Articles

Military E-Prescriptions Exceed 50% Goal Set Three Years Ago

FALLS CHURCH, VA — As of January 2018, 54% of prescriptions filled by MTFs were submitted electronically, exceeding the initial goal of 50% set when the e-prescribing program first rolled out three years ago.

GAO: ‘Gaps’ in MHS Physician Specialties Could Affect Wartime Readiness

In honor of National Caregivers Month this November, the VA Palo Alto, CA, Health Care System, held events for friends and family who provide care to ill, injured or disabled veterans. VA photo WASHINGTON —... View Article

U.S. Medicine Recommends

More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

GAO: ‘Gaps’ in MHS Physician Specialties Could Affect Wartime Readiness

BRONX, NY — For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), living more than 30 miles from their nephrologist is associated with many unfavorable outcomes. They have lower rates of clinic visit adherence, more limited access... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Vows to Meet Deadline for Revamp of Veteran Claims Appeal Process

BRONX, NY — For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), living more than 30 miles from their nephrologist is associated with many unfavorable outcomes. They have lower rates of clinic visit adherence, more limited access... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD, VA Still Struggle with Diagnosing, Treating Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Diagnosing and treating mild traumatic brain injury continues to pose challenges for clinicians, TBI experts told lawmakers.

Department of Defense (DoD)

VA Promises to Resolve Late Payment Issues with Community Healthcare Providers

BRONX, NY — For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), living more than 30 miles from their nephrologist is associated with many unfavorable outcomes. They have lower rates of clinic visit adherence, more limited access... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Change in VA/DoD Guidelines for Low Back Pain Surprising Even for Authors

If VA clinicians are surprised by the significant changes in the updated recommendations recently issued by the VA and DoD for the diagnosis and management of low back pain, they are not alone. The evidence review even shocked many members of the work group that wrote the new clinical practice guidelines.

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up