The Second Osler Symposium - Doctoring in the 21st Century, October 20-23, 2012 in San Diego, CA


We’ve received a variety of questions since we first announced the inaugural Osler Symposium–here are a few. If you have other questions, please email them to . Answers of general interest will be added to this list.

What is the need for The Osler Symposia?

There is a real and documented crisis in medicine today. Physicians are struggling with burnout and/or leaving medicine. The shortage of US doctors is projected to be 150,000 by 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Osler Symposia are scholarly, practical and evidence-based continuing medical education (CME) conferences with the mission of helping physicians stay in medicine.

Why is the conference called the Osler Symposium?

Sir William Osler is referred to as the Father of Modern Medicine. “His enduring influence rests on a legacy of clinical, scientific, literary, educational and intra-professional achievements, linked to the lodestone of a remarkable personality, and bound together by ethical principles and an extraordinary humanism. … In a world where doctors have become ‘providers’ and patients ‘consumers’… the example of Osler and ‘virtue ethics’ are a beacon in an evolving, and frequently, disturbing practice of medicine.”* Osler’s thoughts and words were instrumental in the development of the symposia, and they continue to teach and inspire us today.

What is the Endorphin Power Company?

The Endorphin Power Company (EPC) is a small, nonprofit organization in Albuquerque, NM founded in 2003 by an emergency physician, Sam Slishman, MD. It addresses the needs of the homeless and substance- dependent and underserved communities, as well as alleviates many of the challenges faced by emergency medical systems. Its program is based on four pillars: Education, Exercise, Community & Service. These pillars also frame The Osler Symposia.

What is the connection between EPC and  The Osler Symposia?

When Dr. Slishman founded EPC, he recognized the connection between healthy individuals and healthy communities. In order to have both, we need healthy doctors…and healthy physician communities. So in 2009, when Janice Mancuso presented the concept of The Osler Symposia to Dr. Slishman, he saw the parallel and committed to produce the symposia as another way to honor EPC’s vision and mission.

Is there an online course available?

No. There are some things you simply can’t get from the Internet and social networking. You have to be present!

In Personal Best, when recounting a teaching experience at a medical school in the Midwest where the students were in a remote location, George Sheehan, MD wrote, “I wanted my listeners in front of me. I wanted eye contact and the contact of personalities that goes with it. I wanted the rapport between audience and speaker that stimulates both thought and actions. And I wanted the intimacy that makes for an experience that lives forever in memory.

Why should I take 3-5 days away from home and work to attend this conference?

You deserve this experience. You owe it to yourself, your family…and your patients.

In a 2006 interview, Rachel Naomi Remen, MD (bestselling author and Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UC San Francisco School of Medicine) said…“More and more physicians report that they have lost a sense of the meaning and satisfaction in their work…It’s stressful to compromise your values on a daily basis. Over time, something begins to die in you, perhaps the very thing that brought you into medicine in the first place.

Forming genuine community based on meaning and shared values may be the best way for physicians to remember a sense of meaning and integrity in our work. When we talk about a community, we are not talking about something abstract. We’re talking about groups of people getting together in a face-to-face way that makes shared meaning and values visible. That strengthens everyone in the room. Such genuine communities can eventually have influence on political and economic forces.

Will the Osler Symposium cure my burnout and disillusionment with medicine?

Even though an attendee proclaimed at the conclusion of the 2011 conference that his “burnout was cured!” we cannot guarantee that outcome. We can, however, assure you that you will gain knowledge and wisdom about how to balance your lives, and that you will return to work with renewed—and sustainable—resolve. And you will know that you are not alone.

What are the future goals of The Osler Symposia?

Because of the crisis and projected shortage of thousands of doctors, we can’t afford to keep losing physicians currently caring for patients. As The Osler Symposia grow, they will help counteract the many conferences that promote non-clinical alternatives to practicing medicine. Goals include:

  • Two conferences in 2013: May in Colorado and October in San Diego
  • Development of 1-2 day retreats for medical schools, state and local medical societies, and other professional organizations to offer their faculty and membership
  • Creation of an online “meeting place” for Osler Symposia alumni to gather between conferences
  • Launch of international service trips under The Osler Symposia banner, especially for doctors who have never known the intangible rewards of such experiences, i.e. providing good medical care without the paperwork, bureaucracy and fear of litigation confronted daily

* (Golden, RL. William Osler’s medical ethics in the 21st century. IJME. Vol IX, No 1, 62-63.)

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