ACP Leaders on the Road: Argentina

Congreso Internacional de Medicina Interna del Hospital Clinicas de Buenos Aires
Darren Taichman, MD, FACP
Vice President and Executive Deputy Editor, Annals of Internal Medicine

For over thirty years, the Hospital de Clinicas de la Universidad de Buenos Aires has hosted the Congreso Internacional de Medicina Interna.   Given the wide ranging, state-of-the-art discussions on topics of importance to all internists, it is not surprising that the Congreso continues to grow. You can feel the collegial excitement in the halls as attendees choose what session to attend next.

This was my second time attending the Congreso.  After a warm welcome back from my hosts, Drs. Miriam Levi, Cecilia Arevalo and Ricardo Barcia, I enjoyed talking to many of the leaders of the internal medicine community of Buenos Aires and the Hospital de Clinicas at the opening ceremony – which once again included a beautiful and powerful operatic performance (something you don’t typically see or hear at US-based conferences!).  The program they assembled for this year’s conference was exciting.  In addition to covering topics of importance in all of internal medicine’s subspecialties, the conference focused on three key topics this year: congestive heart failure, chronic liver disease and emergencies in internal medicine.  In addition, Francisco Azzato, the President of the Congress, has enthusiastically introduced a satellite patient-information program, emphasizing the need to keep educational programs focused on the goal of improving patients’ lives.  Dr. Azzato and his colleagues’ enthusiasm for this and the other new features of this year’s Congreso, such as the hands-on workshops at the simulation center, were infectious. 

At my presentations on practice-changing research articles published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in the past year, I enjoyed most the time discussing results with and answering questions of the attendees.  I was struck that the problems facing internists are similar world-wide:  Patients’ demands for “something really strong for this back pain” or antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection are the same.  The struggle between the “perfect” and the “reality” of treating each patient’s hypertension individually remains a vexing problem everywhere.  And everyone is struggling to keep up with the demands of a sicker patient panel, an electronic health record and a seemingly ever busier schedule.  Yet, the joys of practicing seem the same as well – getting to know our patients, and helping them to enjoy the activities they cherish.

Between talks I stepped outside to see the busy patient education center where passersby were taught about hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.  It was an impressive display, not the least of which being that they were able to grab people’s attention despite being located immediately adjacent to the Colon theatre, where Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra was visiting.

The highlight of a great trip, however, was getting to know two medical students, Andres Piczman and Lourdres Rey.  Both in their second year, they are excited by what they are learning and what the future holds.  Indeed, that medical students would commit their precious little free time to attend some lectures at a conference was indeed the highest honor for which a speaker could ask!  Although medical students face the same financial pressures as I am accustomed to hearing in the USA as they consider careers in primary care or higher-paying subspecialties, they are also learning about “value” in medicine.  The students told me how learning to provide care in both the “private” and “public” systems helps to emphasize, on a daily basis, the need to consider the value of each and every test they order.  They see not only where limited resources can impair care, but also how the one can avoid certain tests while providing equivalent (or better) care.  So, the lessons of what is not needed learned in their care of patients with more limited resources informs their choice of what can be safely (and wisely) avoided when money does not pose the same barrier.  These students are the potential leaders of future Congresos, and the future looks bright indeed. 

For photos from this meeting, visit the Ambassadors in Action section of ACP Online.


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