Clinical Pain Advisor: Could you go into detail about the new plan to support ongoing learning by physicians? How is it different from other plans out there?
Dr. Lien: The ABA has incorporated advances in technology and adult learning theory into MOCA 2.0 to support anesthesiologists’ lifelong learning. The core component of the new program is an online assessment tool called MOCA Minute, which requires physicians to answer — at their convenience — 30 online questions every calendar quarter. Each time an anesthesiologist answers a question, whether they answer correctly or not, they are given the correct answer, an explanation of that answer and links to other related educational resources. Questions physicians answer incorrectly will be sent to them again so they can demonstrate that they have learned what they did not previously know. Anesthesiologists will also see the same or similar questions over time so they can demonstrate that they are retaining their medical knowledge. Research in adult learning has proven that spaced repetition, retrieval and feedback drive the retention of medical knowledge. The physicians can use MOCA Minute to identify where there are gaps in their knowledge so they can pursue CME to fill those gaps.
Clinical Pain Advisor: How can aspiring anesthesiologists enter the field? How has it evolved?
Dr. Lien: Medical school graduates interested in anesthesiology can pursue a 4-year anesthesiology residency to learn the full scope of anesthesia practice and clinical management. Residents who complete a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education may pursue board certification upon completion of their residency training. Board certification, like that offered by the ABA, demonstrates that a physician has achieved the highest level of proficiency in their practice. Physicians may further specialize their practice by pursing fellowships in a subspecialty of anesthesiology, such as pain medicine, critical care medicine, or pediatric anesthesiology. Physicians in training today have far more opportunities to specialize their patient care skills then they did 10 or 20 years ago.
Clinical Pain Advisor: What is an anesthesiologist’s role in managing pain?
Dr. Lien: Anesthesiologists treat both chronic and acute pain that occurs from trauma or in the postoperative setting. The ABA offers subspecialty certification in pain medicine for anesthesiologists interested in the diagnosis and treatment of the entire spectrum of painful disorders. Physician anesthesiologists who subspecialize in pain medicine must understand the anatomic and physiologic basis of pain, and the psychological factors that modify the pain experience. They must also have expertise in the pharmacologic, interventional, psychosocial, supportive, and other means of pain management. The anesthesiologist applies a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of patients.