I recently received a copy of the advance program for the April 2010 scientific meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP). On page 38 we find a list of mini-courses in "Clinical Skills in Procedures". These include: skin biopsy and cryosurgery,suturing skills, and my favorite,"toenail removal" about which they state :
"Learn the indications for toenail removal. Using a realistic model and actual surgical instruments ( I guess as opposed to fake instruments),practice a digital block,wedge resection and removal of an ingrown toenail and wound care."
I am puzzled as to the intent of the ACP planners in offering this course. Do they intend that an internist whose post medical school training to my knowledge does not involve the development of surgical skills offer this procedure in his office with only several hours of instruction/practice as his qualifications? Do they believe that one serves his patient well by having an under trained physician perform a surgical procedure?
Should the planners of this course develop a painful ingrown toenail who would seek out for treatment: a general surgeon, an orthopedic foot surgeon, a podiatrist or an internist who took a course at the ACP meeting? I am reminded of this Monty Python skit of a job counseling interview in which the applicant's sole quality for lion taming was a hat that said 'Lion Tamer".
I have written before as has Dr RW (see here and here for his comments and here for mine) on what seems to me to be an identity crisis in internal medicine evidence for which is found in the more recent editions of MKSAP as well as the annual scientific meeting wherein the planners seem to be trying hard to make internists more like family practice physicians. The general internal medicine section of MKSAP had many sections removed from typical or traditional internist's training and areas of expertise such as diagnosis and treatment of corneal abrasions and detailed evaluations of uterine bleeding to name just two. A suturing skills mini-course practicing on pig's feet is part of the "why can't internists be more like family practitioners ?" movement, one that I believe does not enhance internist's patients' care nor the public or self image of internists.