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|CSAM Consulting and Connecting Regional Group: A New Way for Members to Connect|
By Sharone Abramowitz, MD
Over three years ago, when I was preparing for the ABAM boards, I realized that in my neighborhood, the East Bay of Northern California, there were several experienced Addiction Medicine physicians who could support my learning. I wanted a forum to exchange practice experience and obtain clinical pearls from their years of expertise. After disclosing this desire to my colleague, Susan Ferguson, MD, she readily agreed to help me set up a potluck meeting at my home for the first East Bay Addiction Medicine Group. Since then our group has grown to 10 strong, including Marin County colleagues, and meets every quarter at Dr. Judy Martin’s home in Berkeley. We are also an interdisciplinary group, nearly evenly divided between psychiatrists, internists, and family medicine physicians; and, because each of us works in different settings—either private practice, residential treatment, academia or public clinics—we bring fresh perspectives to our lively discussions.
Our case-based meetings revolve around a theme and we circulate by email a relevant article or two beforehand. Recent themes have included a benzodiazepine abuse and taper case, and another was about a COPD patient with chronic pain who was still smoking. In a warm and inviting atmosphere, the discussions are often passionate—routinely beginning from the moment we arrive and barely ending when it’s time to leave. Each participant can earn two hours of CSAM CME credit by considering specifically how we plan to improve our practice based on what we learned from each other. More importantly, we are nurturing collegial relationships with one another, and therefore more likely to call on each other for professional guidance, moral support, and even referrals. We are also gaining a deeper personal connection to CSAM and its mission.