Med-Sci Meets Needs and Interests of New Members

Networking with peers was one of the attractions for those attending Thursday evening's New Members Welcome Reception during the Med-Sci Conference.

Networking with peers was one of the attractions for those attending Thursday evening’s New Members Welcome Reception during the Med-Sci Conference.

New members of ASAM converged on the New Members Welcome Reception Thursday to network with fellow new members and meet some long-time active ASAM members and ASAM Board members. When asked what brought them to the 2012 ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference, the common theme in their responses was the superb continuing medical education in addiction medicine.

“This is my field of expertise, and this is a great place to get updated and make new contacts,” says Michael Sorna, M.D., a Jacksonville, Fla., Addiction Psychiatrist. “I also trained at Emory, so I am up here to see friends and family.”

He says he attended the 2012 Med-Sci to take in the Pain & Addiction Course presentation that addressed healing the healer about physician drug abuse. He says he has interest in how it occurs and how to prevent it.

For new member Pamela Vergara-Rodriguez, M.D., Chicago, this is her second Med-Sci, and she is in Atlanta for the addiction science, policy updates, and information on research opportunities.

“This is one of the major meetings we can attend to learn what addiction specialists are doing nationwide,” she says. “It’s also an opportunity to get a sense of any upcoming policy changes and where the specialty is heading. We can also get a sense of potential grants to apply for.”

John Symeonides, M.D., Palm Coast, Fla., registered for the Medical-Scientific Conference to become more involved in Addiction Medicine, to receive the latest updates in clinical practice, and to discover which therapies are the most effective. He says he appreciates the impressive expanse of educational offerings.

“I just came out of a very nice lecture on cognitive behavior therapy,” he says. “This conference is the place to learn what is new and what is going on. Networking is also a big part of the Med-Sci Conference experience.”

This year’s conference represents the first steps for Agron Ismaili, M.D., Wolf Creek, Wis., in his quest to become an Addiction Medicine specialist. Currently, he practices internal medicine in a hospital setting, and he attends to many patients admitted for alcohol intoxication and polysubstance abuse.

“I am here looking to find direction about how to grow professionally, and I want to gain insights from the senior addiction specialists at the conference,” he says. “I would like to take the board examinations in Addiction Medicine by the end of the year, so I will be attending those courses here on how to obtain board certification.”

A seasoned Addiction Medicine specialist, Scott McNairy, M.D., Minneapolis, has attended a number of ASAM Medical-Scientific Conferences. He is the Addiction Psychiatry Director at the University of Minnesota, which is one of 10 American Board of Addiction Medicine sites for the new training fellowships.

“As this thing is getting off the ground, I finally says to myself that I need to join ASAM— I have been an American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry member for more than a decade,” he says. “I have been to ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference meetings before but had never joined up officially, so I felt it was high time.”

Dr. McNairy says he enjoyed the NIDA Blending Initiative Knowledge Exchange Meeting, which he found to be “an intriguing overview about changing levels of intervention and care for addictions.”

Earl Freeman, D.O., Kennebunk, Maine, says he needs more education in Addiction Medicine. He has been involved in addiction treatment for three years, and in that time, “I realized there is a lot to it. I am at the bottom of the learning curve, and this is the place to learn.”

Gilbert Whitton, M.D., Sydney, Australia, comes to the 2012 ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference from across the globe. He found Thursday’s Pain & Addiction Course insightful because pain and addiction is a huge problem in Australia, and he is seeking better ways of managing it. He is additionally interested in treating addictions in young people, and the connection between the criminal justice system and the health care system.

“I wanted to see how Addiction Medicine is done in the U.S.,” he says. “We have a small group of doctors practicing Addiction Medicine in Australia, and in the U.S., there’s a bigger group. It is great to attend a conference that has a large number of doctors with an interest in this.”