Local doctors keep up to date

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 8, 2004

By: Jan McDonald / Special to The Times

Dr. Maurice Fitz-Gerald and two of his office technicians recently were recertified in the operation and use of ultrasound.

The certification came from the American Institute of Ultrasound and Medicine. Besides Dr. Fitz-Gerald, technicians Dorris Attaway and Jenny Kish are certified through 2007.

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That isn’t the only recertification Dr. Fitz-Gerald has completed. He periodically puts himself through grueling tests to remain up-to-date in the practice of medicine.

Three years ago he completed a seven-hour exam in Atlanta for certification by the American Board of Family Practice. It was the fifth time he has taken and passed the test, which allows him to practice family medicine for seven years.

The ultrasound recertification was done in-house, but that didn’t make it any easier.

The doctor and the technicians were required to examine five patients that demonstrate certain pathological processes.

“You record your examinations on video tapes and send those in to AIUM,” explained Dr. Fitz-Gerald. “Then they send you five unknowns on videotapes and you go over them and diagnose them and show how much pathology they have.”

No collaboration is allowed among those taking the tests, he said. “You do this on an off for about a month.”

Dr. Fitz-Gerald takes part in 200-300 hours of continuing education a year, a process he sees as a duty to his patients. “If I don’t I can’t pass them boards,” he joked.

“You and everybody is being taxed every day thousands of dollars for research, and it’s wrong for me not to learn what that research proves,” he explained. “It’s wrong for you to fund research in diabetes and me not to learn what the best” treatment is.

“That’s why I think the medical community is so hard on us” to remain as current in medical practice as possible.

Family practice is an “umbrella” that covers everything from x-ray to lab tests to treatments.

The two certified technicians handle vascular, echocardiograms, abdominal and breast ultrasounds. A third technician focuses primarily on obstetrical patients.