Continuing Medical Education Keeps Doctors at Forefront of Patient Care

With patient care and medical knowledge advancing relentlessly, physicians must constantly invest in their skills and knowledge to best serve their patients. With a robust program of continuing medical education, the National Jewish Health Office of Professional Education helps doctors within the institution and across the country stay abreast of recent advances and improve their practices.

Flavia Hoyte, MD, is one of many physicians who help train fellows as specialists in one of six fellowship programs.
Flavia Hoyte, MD, is one of many physicians who help train fellows as specialists in one of six fellowship programs.

One area with a vital need for ongoing training of health professionals is the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This disease is most recognizable by the damage to joints that can lead to gnarled and painful hands and feet. In recent years, research has shown that heart disease also poses a major threat to rheumatoid arthritis patients; it is the most common killer of rheumatoid arthritis patients, accounting for about half of all their deaths. Yet, rheumatologists and general practitioners evaluate their rheumatoid arthritis patients for cardiovascular disease much less often than their elevated risk requires.

National Jewish Health rheumatologist Barbara Goldstein, MD, and cardiologist Darlene Kim, MD, worked with the Office of Professional Education at National Jewish Health to educate their colleagues about the cardiovascular risk faced by rheumatoid arthritis patients and to develop protocols that make cardiovascular screening an easier, routine part of their care. National Jewish Health rheumatologists now regularly ask questions about cardiovascular symptoms and screen for lipids in the blood. Referrals of rheumatoid arthritis patients to cardiologists for additional screening more than doubled since the program began. That success led in 2016 to a grant that will help National Jewish Health teach general practitioners at community practices to better diagnose, treat, manage and refer rheumatoid arthritis patients for the care they need.

The National Jewish Health Professional Education Office provides continuing medical education for more than 5,000 doctors nationwide through 90 or more activities per year. Education is a key component in fulfilling our organizational mission to heal, to discover and to educate.