Issue: Highly effective practitioners of psychopharmacology recognize that they must continually "sharpen their saw" as they cut through the diagnosing and prescribing decisions of daily practice. Choosing the right continuing medical education programs is critical to attaining balanced self-renewal in this era of rapidly expanding knowledge about neuroscience and new therapeutic options.
feature is the third in a series of articles1,2
showing how Steven Covey's highly acclaimed principles3
can be applied to develop habits that make one a highly
effective psychopharmacologist. Psychopharmacology is a
rapidly expanding field, with an ever-increasing number
of therapeutic options available for clinical practice.4
Sawing Through Bias
The information explosion in the neurosciences and psychiatry demands that modern practitioners continually cut through this flow of new information in order to update their diagnosing and prescribing skills. To do this, they must periodically "sharpen their saw" by developing a strategy for mastering the use of new drugs in a setting where many of the educational opportunities are either biased or inefficient.
|Continuing medical education
(CME), a requirement for licensing of practitioners, has
grown into a multibillion dollar industry funded largely
by pharmaceutical companies and regulated by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Accreditation
Council for Continuing Medical Education of the American
Medical Association (ACCME).5
A great deal of debate has surrounded the potential commercial bias of some CME programs because industry-sponsored events, travel, samples, luncheons, and gifts do in fact result in the addition of new drugs to formularies and an increase in prescription rates of the sponsor's drug.5,6 However, we can limit the potentially irrational prescribing by sharpening our minds through discriminatory thinking. The highly effective psychopharmacologist exploits the plethora of educational opportunities among sponsors by selecting unbiased programs or going back and forth between commercially sponsored programs. These strategies work to eliminate our confusion and help us cut through the programs being offered, like a file sharpening a dull saw, so that biased programs eventually cancel themselves out.
|Retention from lecture
without audiovisuals is only 5%, the lowest rate. If a
lecture is a traditional 59-minute, 59-slide "data
dump" with good audiovisual support, there will be
20% retention, especially if the speaker realizes that
only 7% of the message should be in words.10
Excellent speakers, in fact, recognize that 38% of the
message is in pace and inflection of delivery and 55% of
the message in their body language. They exploit this
fact to get the best retention rates, which are still
very low for a traditional lecture format. Significantly
more retention of new information occurs if it is
delivered by demonstrations or discussion groups,8,9
but these are almost never employed at CME conferences.
The very highest retention rates occur with "practice by doing" (75%) and "immediate use of learning" (90%) methods. These are being incorporated into many adult education programs outside of medicine, especially with the use of multimedia technologies and interactive audience-response keypads. By presenting information to visual learners through multimedia animations, evidence-based learning can be greatly enhanced. Furthermore, we can practice by doing and have immediate use of learning if video vignettes are used for case-based learning, enabling us to first make diagnosing or prescribing decisions during the CME course. This can be accomplished by executing prescribing decisions via keypads during the course and then applying this new knowledge soon after in our clinical practice.
The highly effective psychopharmacologist will develop the habit of "sharpening the saw" by clever selection of unbiased and efficient CME programs that incorporate the most thoughtful applications of the principles of adult education to enhance retention rates after a single exposure.