3 Things I Learned In Denver

Hello everyone!  This is Dr. Jen, intrepid girl repoter, checking n from Denver, Colorado.  I’m here for the American Academy of Family Practice annual meeting.

In between collecting over 20 hours of continuing medical education (CME) credits – yes, my brain is full!! – I discovered 3 important things that are NOT necessarily related to medicine.

1. Denver is awesome!

I’ve never been to Denver before and didn’t really know what to expect.  I knew it is at high altitude and that they have a pretty good football team, but that’s about it.

I love it here!  I haven’t been outside of downtown except to drive from the airport, but I’ve been really impressed with the downtown area.  It is clean and very safe, with lots of shopping and restaurants in easy walking distance.  There’s even a yarn shop about 3 blocks from my hotel!

The natives have been friendly and very helpful. Everyone cheerfully ignores crosswalks and crossing lights while walking.  This is understandable because the stoplights and crossing lights make NO sense at all.  Several times I stood at an intersection of two one-way streets, red lights in both directions and do-not-cross lights for the crosswalks.  Complete traffic standstill.  Wait, what?

Denver seems to be very healthy and fitness-oriented.  Obesity rates are low in the state of Colorado.  Healthy food choices including plant based and gluten-free options are easy to find.  Bicycles are available for short-term rental, and cyclists and joggers are everywhere.

Before you ask, YES I’ve seen several recreational marijuana dispensaries.  NO I haven’t seen anyone partaking (it’s illegal to light up in public) and NO I have no interest in trying it myself 🙂

In short, I love Denver and can’t wait to bring my family here.  Wish I had time to get out of downtown and go play in those mountains I can see from my hotel room window!

2. I really AM still shy in large groups

As I mentioned in my last blog post, as a child I was awkward and shy in large groups.  Well guess what, that hasn’t changed.

Here I am in a huge confrerence with thousands of like-minded professionals and I find myself very intimidated.  I’ve been working hard to introduce myself to one new person every day.

Interestingly when I participated in a small focus group with only about 10 people I was much more comfortable.  I have hope that someday I’ll be more confortable in larger groups!

BTW if you can spare a moment for a quick prayer for me on Saturday morning, October 17th, I would much appreciate it.  I have to present a talk on caregiver stress at the Women’s Health Expo.  Want to come listen?  I’d love to see some friendly faces there – click the link to register.  It’s free!

3. Even family doctors aren’t very aware of integrative principles

This week I have been struck over and over that about 95% of the discussions have been “name-it-and-tame-it” lectures.  Basically, diagnose it and then pick a pharmaceutical.

I was pleased that many lecturers did mention diet, exercise and weight loss as being helpful for certain conditions.  I went to every session offered about diet, nutritional supplements and integrative therapies.  On the whole the tone was neutral-to-negative unfortunately.

Even family medicine has a long way to go in bringing proven integrative therapies into the exam room.  Since I haven’t been in practice very long and this was my first major mainstream conference, I have hopes that the trend will be to bring more education to family doctors on these topics in the future.

Shout out to Dr. Amy Locke and Dr. Jill Schneiderhan from the University of Michigan who presented an awesome talk on herbal therapies. It was extremely useful for both integrative docs like me and open-minded family docs who want to be able to advise their patients on commonly used herbal preparations that may or may not be safe.

This trip has been great, even though I miss my family.  I’ve learned a ton and made several connections.  Home Sunday, and back in the office to tackle ICD-10 (yuck!) on Monday.


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