Needed: Clinical Education Programs for Dermatology

Advocating for Better Continuing Clinical Education Programs and Clinical Exchange Programs

dermatlolgy_clinical_trainingIn the field of Cosmetic Dermatology, Continuing Clinical Education Programs are terrible and Clinical Exchange Programs are nonexistent. Who is to blame?

The big laser companies are to blame! Cutera, Lumenis, Cynosure, Palomar, Sciton and other big laser companies have not developed meaningful Clinical Education Programs and they have not encouraged or facilitated Clinical Exchange Programs. This includes Cutera’s bi-yearly Clinical Forums.

Why should they do this? Why should they put a great deal of time and resources into continuing clinical education programs and clinical exchange programs? Because clinical outcomes would be better, demand for laser treatments would increase, their customers (the providers) would do better financially (and professionally) and finally, patients would get better and safer treatments with better clinical outcomes. When the tide is higher, all boats float at a higher level. The tide (clinical outcomes) is not where it should be and this is mainly due to the laser company’s apathy and disdain towards continuing clinical education and clinical exchange programs.

We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase our lasers and then they charge us tens of thousands of dollars per year in support. They abandon us. They don’t know how to use the lasers themselves and they expect each of us to figure it out through trial and error. Trail and error on our paying patients. Yes, I am fighting mad about this and you should be too.

The correlation between clinical competence and clinical outcomes should be obvious . . . Just as comprehensive initial training gives rise to predictably excellent clinical outcomes, the ability to exchange ideas and experiences with other [laser] operators dramatically magnifies your clinical competence . . . a worthwhile clinical exchange program should utilize one or more of the following media: Online Forums, Teleseminars, Webinars and live phone support . . . as the field of [laser] therapy advances, all new clinically relevant findings and advance techniques should be made readily available to you via a continuing education program. This may take the form of a newsletter, website, DVD, Video and/or live workshop. ---The IPL Dog & Lemon Guide

How do I know there is a problem? Because I see it everyday in my practice, I talk to other providers and I read the blogs. I read how physicians don’t know how to use the Fraxel, I read how physicians don’t know how to minimize pain, I read how physicians don’t know how to prevent and treat postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. I read the blogs and I see lots of patients are not very happy with the outcomes of their laser treatments. I read the content of their complaints and these patients are not complainers, they didn’t get the results they wanted or they got a complication they didn’t want. In addition, their provider didn’t have good answers when this happened. Their providers were like “deers caught in the headlight”. These patients did not get the best treatments because their provider were not properly informed and educated about the cosmetic procedure they were performing. My prospective patients read these blogs and they don’t want to have the laser treatments because they think the treatments hurt, they won’t work or they will produce unwanted side effects.

I look around and I see very few meaningful continuing clinical education programs. I look around and I see zero clinical exchange programs other than the type we are trying to have on Zero clinical exchange programs from the big laser companies. Zero!!!

How do I know there is a problem? I have to find out about new techniques by luck and happenstance! For example, the only reason that I know that you can do ActiveFx with intervals of one month rather than 3 months is because I listened to a Webinar where this was mentioned as an afterthought. Lumenis has no mechanism or plan to keep providers informed about new techniques or thoughts. The only reason that I know you should not do Fraxel more than 3 times in a patient with Melasma is because I happened to complain about something else and the clinical educator mentioned that Reliant was receiving reports that the fourth and fifth treatments make Melasma worse. Reliant had no system and has no plan to keep its providers informed about new techniques or new thoughts. This makes me mad. When I speak to the companies about this, they pat me on the head and tell me to go away like a good boy. They just don’t get it! They tell me that I am the only provider asking to be kept informed. They try to make me feel stupid for asking questions and expecting to be kept informed. I don’t feel stupid, I think they don’t care and I think this is not smart.

They are not going to get it unless we force it down their throats. I say, “Let’s force it down their throats!” We can do this if we all politely and forcefully ask and demand these type of programs. Numbers will get their attention. When some companies do it, the others will do it because they will be able to use it as a marketing tool.

If you agree with me, please contact your laser company (your local sales representative, the person who runs the Webinars and the Corporate Vice President in charge of Marketing and Education) and ask for meaningful programs in the next 6 months at the lastest. Tell them how disappointed you are in their performance so far. Tell them that you would not recommend their lasers to another physician because they don’t have clinical exchange programs and continuing clinical educational programs.

All they have to do is put out a monthly Newsletter and put up a Discussion Bulletin Board on the Internet for their clients. They should also publicize and promote the use of the Newsletter and the Bulletin Board. They should provide expert moderators who contribute to the discussion. They also should summarize or transcribe all of their Webinars and Clinical Forums so more physicians have access to this information (without having to sit at a computer for 2 hours each time to view a marketing Webinar). Each Webinar and Clinical Forum should serve as a “discussion springboard” off of which a Discussion Bulletin Board with Expert Moderator is launched.

If you would like these things, contact your laser company today. If they pat you on the head and give you excuses about why they can’t do this or won’t do this or why they don’t think it is important, send them a copy of this website and let them read this entry. Tell them they can do it now or do it later. Tell them they can do it the hard way or do it the easy way. Tell them the view never changes unless you are the lead dog. They want to be the lead dog on this issue.