Last month I attended a medical conference in Chicago. I try to attend a couple of educational meetings every year to help keep my clinical practices up to date. Continuing education isn’t nearly as strenuous as medical school, which was an eight-hour marathon of class every day. With continuing ed, you stay in a nice hotel near famous museums and sights, and there’s lots of good eating nearby.
This time around I was particularly struck by just how much marketing to physicians went on. It wasn’t just pharmaceuticals — also being pushed were educational courses, employment opportunities, and a variety of consulting services. It’s awkward being targeted as a consumer when your intentions are as a learner. I was also sort of floored to realize that I probably learned as much getting caught up on my medical journals on the inbound flight* as I did during the meeting lectures — but the meeting’s what gets a doc her credit hours. Good perspective for those who insist we need drug companies and device makers to fund ongoing physician education.
*OK, admittedly my flight was re-routed through St. Louis, where the plane was grounded for hours waiting for thunderstorms at O’Hare to clear. So I had some extra reading time.