Online course in pain management reaches Latin America


San Antonio (June 8, 2004) – An online pain management course written in Spanish and created in the department of anesthesiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio was rolled out this spring to a potential audience of 25,000 general practitioners, internists, rheumatologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, orthopedists and other physicians from Mexico to Argentina.

“Pain is the fifth vital sign,” said Marcos A. Zuazu, M.D., the course’s director and associate professor of anesthesiology at the Health Science Center. (Temperature, respiration, pulse and blood pressure are the others.) “This course provides criteria to establish a diagnosis of pain. Exams after its three modules test the physicians’ knowledge of the management of pain, and the tests are real doozies. We have made this relatively hard.”

Pain management fellows Bert Blackwell, M.D., and Greg Skiba, M.D., an anesthesiologist, wrote modules along with Dr. Zuazu. Prous Science, an international medicine and life sciences information provider headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, developed the online course from the core content. Prous Science, which has a subsidiary in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is coordinating with representatives of Merck & Co. Inc. to provide course access codes to physicians in Latin America. The course is free to physicians and is linked to the Merck Web site.

“The Health Science Center is breaking ice, because there is nothing specially designed for the Latin American physician in terms of a continuing education program with a certificate to provide educational material on this topic,” Dr. Zuazu said.

The course certificate is granted through the department of anesthesiology, and Dr. Zuazu credits Joseph J. Naples, M.D., professor and chair of anesthesiology and the R. Brian Smith, M.D., Professor at the Health Science Center, with supporting this endeavor. Martha A. Medrano, M.D., M.P.H., assistant dean for continuing medical education and director of the Health Science Center’s Medical Hispanic Center of Excellence, also lent her support. Becky Holloway, Web specialist in the office of multimedia and Web services, developed the course Web site for exam taking and crediting of scores to physicians.

“This is very well done,” Dr. Naples said. “It is very practical and challenging, timed and graded. It is a high-tech online course in Spanish. This will be useful for the physicians’ treatment of pain. Dr. Zuazu is the initiator of this and is well known in Spain and Central and South America.”

Percy Zambrana, M.D., a visiting anesthesiologist from the University of Chiclayo in Northern Peru, said he is trying to develop a pain clinic at a hospital in Chiclayo. “The course is a great development,” he said. “We need this course. We have only a small group of doctors in the area of pain.” Dr. Zambrana has returned to Chiclayo to continue his work.

“Our Hispanic Center of Excellence and Health Science Center are reaching beyond South Texas to provide high-quality, much-needed opportunities for our neighbors in South and Central America,” Dr. Medrano said.

The course is called the “Curso de Manejo del Dolor” (Course for Management of Pain).

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