For 15 years, Frank Domino, M.D., has been delivering his "Top 10 Updates in Evidence-based Medicine" at the AAFP's annual meeting. What started as a typical CME session eventually grew so popular that the Academy had to add an overflow room so more attendees could hear Domino and see his slides even if they couldn't find seats in the actual session.
One year, disaster struck when the sound system in the overflow room failed.
"People were pretty upset," Domino said.
Seating shouldn't be an issue Sept. 27 in Philadelphia when, for the third year in a row, Domino's presentation will be a mainstage event during the Family Medicine Experience. His approach, which blends statistics, clinical advice and humor, has drawn thousands of FMX attendees each of the past two years.
"One thing I'm able to do is make complicated medical issues simple," Domino said. "I'm also from New Jersey and am a bit of a smartass, and I think people appreciate humor in a medical lecture."
Domino never planned to be a teacher. His first job out of residency was at a community health center, and he later started a group practice. When his wife suffered an illness, he left private practice to take a job in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. More than 20 years later, he's still there.
"I tell my students, 'You have plans, but life happens,'" said Domino, who earned an undergraduate degree in zoology at Drew University and at one point planned to be a physical therapist. "You have to be flexible enough to take what life gives you and keep going. I'm a perfect example."
Domino, who minored in English at Drew, has maximized his opportunities. He's the editor-in-chief of The 5-Minute Clinical Consult(www.amazon.com) and editor of the Evidence Based Practice Updates blog.(www.ebpupdate.com) He's also the host of the Frankly Speaking About Family Medicine podcast,(primed.libsyn.com) which has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years.
As for what's next, Domino has co-authored a book with a pair of physical therapists -- Manual Medicine for Primary Care -- about techniques for treating health issues such as back pain and plantar fasciitis in primary care offices. It's scheduled to be published this fall.
Not bad for a guy who struggled early in his training at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.
"There wasn't a semester when I wasn't failing at least one course in the first two years of medical school," said Domino, who was later chief resident at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J. "I share that with my students, and they appreciate my openness. I understand medical students' struggles well because of my own struggles. I work hard to be available to students to help them with their challenges. It's been rewarding for me."
Domino, a professor and director of predoctoral education, has received the Outstanding Medical Educator Award presented by UMass students 13 times. He teaches two half-days a week, sees patients three half-days a week, edits three half-days a week, works with residents a half-day a week and handles other duties, such as the podcast.
"If you add up all the percentages, it comes up to more than 100%," he said. "That's academic medicine."
Domino said the diversity of his work makes it enjoyable.
"I have patients who have been with me for more than 20 years and I feel like I'm part of their family," he said. "That's very rewarding. Working with students and residents keeps me sharp. And editing is fantastic. It's very fun."