President Nominates Surgeon General, Director of NIH
President Bush recently nominated Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., to be the U.S. Surgeon General, and Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., to be the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Carmona is currently a clinical professor of surgery, public health, and family and community medicine at the University of Arizona, and he is the chairman of the state of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System. He has also served as chief executive officer of the Pima Health Care System and as a police officer with the Pima County Sheriff's SWAT team. Zerhouni is currently the executive vice dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, a clinical professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, and chairman of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science at Johns Hopkins. He has also served as vice dean for research and vice dean for clinical affairs at Johns Hopkins, and as president of the Clinical Practice Association.
National Survey Focuses on Racial Disparities, Prescription Drugs
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the National Survey of Physicians, a two-part national survey of 2,608 physicians dealing with racial disparities in medical care and the influence of promotions from pharmaceutical companies on drug prescriptions. Results from part I of the survey reveal that the majority of physicians believe racial disparities exist in the medical treatment of certain conditions but are not widespread; however, 77 percent of black physicians believe race and ethnicity affect how patients are treated at least “somewhat often.” The majority of physicians listed insurance status as the key determinant of treatment within the health care system, and 72 percent believed that the system treated patients unfairly based on health insurance status “very often” or “somewhat often.” Part II of the survey found that most physicians have received gifts from a pharmaceutical company, including free drug samples, meals, tickets to events, and free travel. Nearly three fourths of physicians listed information from pharmaceutical companies as “very” or “somewhat” useful, and most thought the information was “very or somewhat accurate.” More than 60 percent of physicians said that prescription drug advertisements influenced their patients to discuss the drug with their physician. For a complete copy of the survey results, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site atwww.kff.org.
HHS Recruiting 40 Public Health Service Officers
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently announced that the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) will recruit 40 new U.S. Public Health Service officers from primary care physicians to provide primary health care services in communities in the United States that are medically underserved. The 40 officers will be trained as “NHSC Ready Responders” who will provide an additional resource of health professionals who are able to respond to regional or national medical emergencies. These officers will remain distinct from the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT). This recruiting is part of President Bush's five-year initiative to expand the NHSC and the health center network and increase the number of patients served annually from 10 million to 16 million by 2006. The officers' assignments will be no longer than three years in duration.
Online Courses on Bioterrorism Preparedness Now Available to FPs
An additional $400,000 in funding has allowed a Web site focused on educating physicians in bioterrorism preparedness to expand the availability of its courses to 265,000 family physicians, office-based internists, pediatricians, and dermatologists. The site (www.bioterrorism.uab.edu), sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), currently offers five online courses worth one hour of continuing education credit at no cost. The courses cover identification of potential bioterrorist agents (including smallpox and anthrax) and commonly associated symptoms. “This Web site is an important tool to help doctors identify rare infections that also could be potential bioterrorist threats,” said HHS Secretary Thompson. “Expanding the Web site to allow more doctors to access this critical information is an essential part of the nation's bioterrorism preparedness activities.” The Web site was designed by researchers in the Center for Disaster Preparedness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) under a contract from AHRQ.
National Conference for Residents and Students to be Held in July-August
The National Conference of Family Practice Residents and Medical Students, scheduled for July 31 to August 3 in Kansas City, Mo., offers residents and students the opportunity to expand their knowledge in the areas of clinical skills, leadership development, and career planning. Participants can choose from over 40 workshops, 15 procedural skills courses, and three musculoskeletal clinics on topics such as advanced suturing techniques, common orthopedic problems, and managing money and debt effectively. The conference also provides networking opportunities, including speaking with representatives from family practice residency programs, meeting with placement services, town hall meetings, special interest discussion groups, and social activities. Attendees will also have the opportunity to voice their ideas, concerns, and recommendations for new policies that the American Academy of Family Physicians might adopt. For more information or to register online, visitwww.aafp.org/conference/.