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US medical lessons for Indian docs

New Delhi, Dec. 4: Doctors in India may access a vast repository of medical education resources, including self-assessment tools spanning 14 branches of medicine, under a new initiative launched by a body of US physicians.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) announced today that it hopes to substantially increase its membership in India and, beginning early 2013, offer medical education lessons and knowledge-exchange workshops to medical students and practising doctors across India.

“What we offer is intended to help doctors polish what they’ve learnt, build on it and keep up with the forefront of knowledge in medicine,” said Phyllis Guze, chair of the board of regents of the ACP and the senior executive dean at the University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine.

The ACP, an organisation of physicians involved in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults, has 133,000 members worldwide, including about 10,000 outside the US. The ACP already has about 200 members in India, but wants to expand this by at least another 500 over the next year.

Membership will grant doctors access to ACP’s clinical practice guidelines, including a database of evidence-based guidance for physicians that contains about 490 modules on diseases, screening and prevention, procedures, and complementary and alternative medicine.

Doctors could also make use of self-assessment tools — an exam with 1,200 multiple-choice questions that may be accessed online or via smartphones. The self-assessment tools cover 14 specialities such as cardiology, endocrinology, oncology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, among others.

“I think there’s scope for two-way exchange of knowledge between the ACP and physicians’ organisations in India,” said Issac Christian Moses, professor and head of the department of medicine at the government-run Coimbatore Medical College, and a member of the Association of Physicians of India, the equivalent body in India.

“We could benefit from their experience in geriatrics and oncology, while we could write volumes about the management of infectious diseases such as dengue,” Moses told The Telegraph.

The ACP is likely to approach the Medical Council of India and state councils so that continuing medical education (CME) programmes organised by the ACP may be used by doctors to gain CME credits.

Many state medical councils demand that doctors complete a specified number of CME credits each year or once every five years to keep abreast of advances in their areas of specialisation.

Some councils such as the Delhi Medical Council had made CME mandatory for doctors to be able to renew their licences to practise medicine every five years.

“ACP’s goal is to establish a chapter in India directed by local internal medicine leaders that will direct regular scientific meetings and educational programmes,” James Ott, senior vice-president of the ACP’s international programmes, said in a media release issued today.