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Sandtrap offers perfect practice for Iraqi desert

Sandtrap offers perfect practice for Iraqi desert

Your putt, Bob. You know, this is the best CME course I've been to. I'm sorry it's the last day.”

“I know. My room's fantastic. “

“And dinner every night has been a poem.”

“Not to mention the spa, which has been heavenly.”

“The conference rooms are also very impressive.”

“Really? You've seen them?”

“Sort of. As I was signing in this morning, the doors opened briefly and I got a peek inside.”

“You've been signing me in every day, too, right?”

“Yes. They have a CT Body conference next year at the Ritz.”

“Think it will be worth it?

“Yeah! It's 28 hours of CME.”

“No, is the golf course there worth it?”

I love reading the perp sheets from state medical boards of doctors disciplined for specific crimes. (What is it with podiatrists and the whole foot fetish thing?) The number of physicians having their licenses suspended for CME problems always catches my eye. The most famous was Dr. Sean R. Tunis, chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended his license for a year and fined him $20,000 for reporting CME he had not earned. Ever sign in for a CME conference, then go golfing or sightseeing? One doctor had his license suspended after being turned in by one of his hospital colleagues. Ouch, that hurts! But maybe not as bad as what the state boards have prepared for you next. More about this later.

In December, I had to take the recertification exam for my Neuroradiology certificate of adequate qualifications. I love learning about radiology, but when I actually have to study for a critical test, things get weird.

When I received my certificate in 1998, recertification was 10 years off, so I had lots of time to study. Then I had eight years. Then five. Pretty soon it's three years. I should probably start studying for real—next month. Suddenly, I have only a year left. Six months later: Yikes! How did time fly so quickly? I seriously need to start— next week. Now only three months. THREE MONTHS!? I had procrastinated too long.

So I sat down at my desk with a stack of textbooks—only to notice that the carpet had not been vacuumed or the desk dusted in who knows how long. Can't study that way. After several hours cleaning, I was now really ready to study.

But first I needed a snack. Which is when I noticed the state of the kitchen. After washing the dishes, cleaning shelves, waxing the floor, defrosting the fridge, and alphabetizing all the food in the cabinets, I was really ready to study. But then I took out the garbage and noticed the garage was a mess. A few weeks later, the garage was spotless and totally organized.

Suddenly, I had less than 30 days to prepare. I took comfort in the thought that I could take the exam twice a year for three years before they refused to recertify me. This was not so bad. Take the test, get a sense of the exam, and then study afterwards. Cool.

I took it at the RSNA. I knew I had failed. I left after only an hour and 15 minutes. I didn't feel that bad, however, since I had turned it into a win-win situation. I had told God that if I passed, I would go to Iraq to help people. So if I failed, that was actually a good thing. Believe me, I walked out thrilled that I didn't have to go shopping for a bulletproof vest and steel codpiece.

Once home, I did hunker down and begin studying very seriously. I was motivated by an article I had read in the August 2006 issue of Scientific American called “The Expert Mind” by Philip Ross, as well as a book by Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated. Both share the same argument, that talent is overrated.

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