Arizona Telemedicine May 2014 - Page 16

DISTANCE LEARNING: ‘A Real Plus’ for Rural Physicians The Arizona Telemedicine Program began offering distance learning in 1998, and continuing education credits in 2000. Rural physicians place high value on the courses, taught by researchers and clinicians. T he Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) is widely known as one of the top telemedicine programs in the country, improving health care in rural communities, saving lives, and lowering costs. At the national level, the ATP is known as a leader in distance learning and continuing medical education programs developed to meet the needs of patients, physicians and other health professionals. Starting in 1998 with offerings at eight charter sites, the programs are now available at 160 sites in 70 communities across Arizona, through videoconferencing and live and delayed web streaming. Educational events are attended by physicians, nurses, dentists, therapists, emergency medical services personnel, and other health professionals. Continuing medical education (CME) credits are awarded through the Office of Continuing Medical Education at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine. Nursing continuing education credits are awarded through the University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus or the UA College of Nursing. With 30 percent of participants receiving continuing education credits, more than 13,000 credit hours have been awarded since 2000. Sara Gibson, MD, a psychiatrist based in Flagstaff, and Dexter DeWitt, MD, a general practitioner in Payson, are two physicians who seldom miss an ATP distance-learning or CME opportunity. “You don’t have to go anywhere. You can learn through your computer,” says Dr. Gibson, who is associate medical director of Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority, which administers state funding for behavioral health care in Coconino, Apache, Navajo, Yavapai and 12 Mohave Counties. “Our telemedicine staff move me out of my clinical sessions and connect me to the CME.” Dr. Gibson has been practicing psychiatry since 1988 and telepsychiatry since 1996. She cite ˜H