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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 25, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 31
CME offering in internal medicine brings 300 to JHMI campus

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A physician's education never ends, and for the past 50 years the Philip A. Tumulty Topics in Clinical Medicine course has been a bastion for docs seeking continuing medical instruction.

This year marks the golden anniversary of the course, which annually attracts nearly 300 health care providers from around the globe to learn about the latest advances in internal medicine from leading Johns Hopkins faculty. It will be held May 2 to 6 at the Turner Building on the JHMI campus.

Designed for physicians primarily interested in internal medicine, the groundbreaking course highlights recent and significant advances in areas of general clinical interest. In addition to short discussions with faculty and patients about specific disease problems, the course includes conferences and symposia devoted to important, broad areas of clinical medicine.

To celebrate the anniversary, two of the School of Medicine's most renowned faculty — Myron Weisfeldt, chair of the Department of Medicine, and Martin Abeloff, director of Oncology — will give presentations on the advances that have occurred in the last half-century in cardiology and oncology. The course will also feature a symposium in honor of John Bartlett in recognition of his 25 years as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. The symposium will be titled "Fifty Years of ID: Lessons Learned."

Topics in Clinical Medicine, offered through the SoM's Office of Continuing Medical Education, was founded in 1955 by Philip Tumulty, who believed that Johns Hopkins faculty should communicate their expertise in internal medicine to those outside the institution. To maximize the program's collegial atmosphere, Tumulty wanted the course held on the East Baltimore campus and for faculty to intermingle with participants at informal lunches and a featured social activity.

"We know that one of his objectives was to be certain that, in addition to being educational, the course was also a social event," said William Schlott, Philip A. Tumulty Associate Professor of Medicine and co-director of the Topics in Clinical Medicine course. "He wanted to be sure that the faculty interacted with the registrants, and that is a policy that we have continued — and it's the major reason why we never switched to having it in a downtown hotel, which some have suggested we do. The advantage of having it right here is that faculty can just walk across the street from the hospital to the Turner Building."

Schlott said the course, which again this year will draw more than 300 physicians to Baltimore, has spawned many imitators.

"We have a lot of competition, certainly," Schlott said. "Originally, this was the only course of its type. Now the University of Virginia; the University of California, San Francisco; and many other academic medical centers have this kind of course. Many of these schools host their programs at places like Aspen or Santa Fe, but we are going to keep ours right here. People who come here, in particular those who come back each year, are coming for the course, and not because it's a vacation destination."

Philip Tumulty served on the School of Medicine faculty for nearly 50 years, heading the Department of Medicine's inpatient and outpatient services for 17 years and helping to found the Division of Internal Medicine, of which he was the first director. Known as an unequaled diagnostician and a champion of the humanistic approach to medicine, he focused his scholarship on the study of the natural history of disease. Before his death in 1989, colleagues and patients honored him with the Tumulty Endowment Fund for the support of internal medicine.

Selected memorabilia concerning Tumulty and the program he founded — including personal letters, pictures and programs from the course's first decade — will be on display at the Turner Building during the week.

Today, the course remains dedicated to Tumulty's vision of providing the best summaries of the advances in internal medicine and extending the hospitality of Johns Hopkins' faculty. Popular components of the course are the featured social event, to be held this year at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the meet-the-professor sessions, where groups of eight to 10 registrants have an informal meeting with a faculty member to discuss his or her expertise.

Schlott, who has been involved with Topics in Clinical Medicine since the early 1970s, said that faculty who participate in the course are encouraged to stay after their sessions to talk shop with the registrants.

"I think that is one of the reasons we have many physicians who come back year after year — they get to know our faculty," Schlott said. "I think our repeat visitors are also an indication that we do a good job. We are providing something that they find valuable in their own practices."

The course, which is worth up to 38.5 category 1 credits, costs $800 for physicians and $650 for residents, fellows, nurses and allied health professionals. The cut-off date for registration is today. Registrations received after 5 p.m. on April 25 will be subject to a $50 late fee. To register, call 410-955-2959. For more information, go to and enter keyword "Tumulty."


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