Case Discussions are Back!
By: Dana Harris, MD, FASAM, CSAM Secretary
We are pleased to announce that we are hard at work developing our small group case discussions, a time-honored CSAM tradition. Our attendees consistently tell us that this is one of the many things that set CSAM conferences apart, as these discussions enhance both learning and community building.
We have been asked over the years why the case discussions don’t include outcomes and I had the opportunity to discuss this with Dr. Steve Eickelberg, who is one of our cherished long-term CSAM members and who has written so many of the cases that you have been challenged by over the years. Here’s a bit of our conversation:
DH: So, you’ve written dozens of cases over the years, and I know that you and I have often discussed the value of NOT providing more clear outcomes (“the answers”), something that seems to be a challenge for many of our attendees. I wonder if you could speak to that.
SE: Sure. Well, what is the goal of these case discussions? From my perspective the goal is really to experience the value of collaboration and to learn to trust the brain trust of this incredible community. The “answers” come out of the discussion.
DH: Of course. But we know that so many of our attendees are studying for the certification exam in review course years, and as conference planners we often wonder if the ambiguity of these case outcomes is as satisfying to our test takers.
SE: Isn’t that the process of practicing medicine? You have a clinical situation that comes up and there is no single answer. There is a process that involves using our colleagues to try to find the best clinical approach. So, in a sense the case discussions present much more of a real world process – that of learning from your colleagues the information you don’t have and how to apply it to a situation. This is about applying adult learning principles and process based learning. And well, if these cases promote some discomfort about not knowing certain concepts, isn’t that wonderful motivation to continue to seek information and approach peers?
DH: You’ve been such an integral part of carrying on this rich CSAM tradition. I wonder if you could say a bit about what case discussions have meant for you.
SE: When I came to my first CSAM conference as a physician, very new to addiction medicine, I was asked to be a table facilitator for the case discussions and I absolutely fell in love with the process! It was so reassuring to know that as a new addiction doc I could facilitate this group and not know the answers! I realized that the information coming from my colleagues was far better than anything I could have prepared, and the process of drawing my colleagues out in these discussions was just so gratifying.
DH: Well, I for one, want to thank you for the incredible work you have done crafting these truly challenging cases and helping to make CSAM conferences ones that our members continue to return to.
We hope that you share our enthusiasm for case discussions and will join us at the 2023 Review Course, where we will challenge you with all new cases.