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Feb 4 2016

Keeping the momentum: making outreach an integral part of NCMB’s work

 Categories:  President’s Message Comments:   0 comments  Print Friendly Version  |   Share this item
A year ago my colleague, Dr. Cheryl Walker-McGill, used her first President’s Message to make the case that increasing outreach to the profession is essential for the Board to strengthen its relationship to licensees and enhance its ability to regulate for the benefit and protection of the people of North Carolina. Now, I am happy to report that the Board was successful in implementing its goal to dramatically expand outreach in 2015. Presentations to professional groups, including medical students and residents, more than tripled last year, allowing the Board to reach an unprecedented number of current and potential licensees.

My own take on the value of outreach to licensees is decidedly practical. The longer I serve on the Board, the more obvious it is to me that many of the physicians and physician assistants who come to the Board’s attention for alleged misconduct do so because they are uninformed about policies, rules or laws governing the profession. Engaging with licensees through frequent presentations opens a conduit through which the Board can deliver important information that will, hopefully, lead to good decisions and avoid preventable mistakes. I believe that most licensees, given good information, will make the right decisions for their patients and practices. Put another way, if more licensees knew the boundary lines existed, and where they are, perhaps fewer would ever cross them.

Operating ignorant of the rules of conduct, as it were, is especially risky today amid the tumultuous changes occurring in the health care finance and delivery systems. Major shifts such as the rapid expansion of telemedicine into primary and acute care and the rising prevalence of employed physicians accountable to hospital or corporate policy are just two examples that frequently challenge licensees efforts to meet professional obligations to patients. Regularly discussing these and other issues with licensees through outreach helps keep the Board informed of conditions “in the trenches” and gives licensees the opportunity to raise concerns or ask specific questions
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Over the next year, the Board and its staff will work diligently to firmly integrate outreach into the culture of the Medical Board, building on last year’s progress. It is my hope and expectation that outreach be thought of as an essential component of the Board’s work, rather than a temporary initiative to be achieved and supplanted by some new priority.

To that end, one of the major priorities of my Board Presidency will be a new outreach program focused on medical students and other early career professionals. This program is still in the planning stages, but my vision is to bring medical professionals to the Board’s offices in Raleigh for an intensive mini-residency that will deepen participants’ understanding of the Board, its mission and duties. This is different from the Board’s current outreach activities in a few important ways. First, instead of taking our message to the audience, this program will bring learners to the Board for an up close look. Second, the program will include mock proceedings, role-playing or some other type of participatory learning, in addition to more traditional lecture-based learning. Finally, we will focus on students and residents in an effort to establish a productive relationship with these potential and current licensees early. Our hope is to infuse an understanding of medical regulation into these young professionals as they enter the practice of medicine and establish an expectation that they will reach out to the Board with concerns and questions over the course of their careers. Ideally, individuals selected for the mini-residency will go back to their schools and training programs to share what they have learned about the Board. Over time, I hope we will see more licensees using the Board as a resource that can help them avoid trouble. I am working with Board staff now to finalize the details. Our goal is to enroll the initial class of participants before my term as President concludes in October.

It is something of a tradition to end one’s first President’s Message with a statement of gratitude. It is an honor to serve as Board President, and one not many physicians are afforded. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve and will do my utmost to honor the medical profession with my efforts.

A Look at NCMB’s 2015/2016 Board President
Name: Pascal Udekwu, MD
Term ends: October 31, 2017
City: Raleigh, NC
Specialty: General Surgery
Certification: American Board of Surgery
Practice: Wake Specialty Physicians - General Surgery and
WakeMed’s emergency medicine
Pascal O. Udekwu, MD


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