How to turn your consultations into MOC learning opportunities

By Susan Brien, MD, FRCSC

Did you know that you can leverage your consultations and communications with family physicians for MOC Program credits?

Dr. Susan Brien

I was inspired by a recent e-consultation experience to think differently and more broadly about the diagnosis of my patients, and also my pursuit of continuing professional development.

Here’s my tip for how you can turn your everyday consultations into learning opportunities and claim valuable MOC credits.

Learning always starts with a question

Family physicians always ask interesting questions that compel us to reflect outside of our usual clinical areas of expertise. For example, as a community neurosurgeon, I’m frequently consulted on brain tumours, spine trauma and chronic diseases of the neck, among other items; however, I sometimes receive questions that I look forward to using to refresh my knowledge. For example, a question about whether an 18-year-old patient with a 20 degree curve in their spine should have further imaging or bracing, afforded me an opportunity to review the literature and refresh my knowledge about a topic adjacent to my area of expertise. I was able to share that learning with the referring physician.

How e-consultation facilitates shared learning

During a traditional consultation, I typically limit my response to an answer and my opinion. However, participating as a learner in my province’s e-consultation program inspired me to do more with this particular question. Thanks to the e-consultation’s technology and functionality, it was easy to share my learnings with the referring physician. This included references to up-to-date literature and pictures that I uncovered during my research. Unlike in the traditional consultation format, which is much more transactional in nature, there was learning on both sides.

Many provinces are rolling out e-consultation programs. These private, secure platforms make it easier for family physicians to ask a specialist about a case — but, with a little extra effort, you can engage in this same form of shared learning, even without an e-consultation platform.

One of the unexpected benefits of consulting with family physicians is that the questions often require you to diverge from the edges of your practice and expand your learning in novel and interesting ways. Thanks to this particular question, I was able to expand my personal base of knowledge to include more on imaging and bracing. I was also able to claim MOC Program Section 2 self-learning credits for my research.

I hope that your own (e-) consultations bring you similar opportunities for engagement, divergent thinking and continuing professional development.

How to claim consultation credits in three easy steps

  1. Transform questions into your own opportunity for continuing professional development: The formulation of a question is an important starting point for all continuing professional development. Questions coming from family physicians are often wonderfully random and tangential to your scope of practice. Consider them an opportunity to delve into a corner of the literature you don’t normally peruse and learn something new.
  2. Create a teachable moment by sharing an educational piece: Provide a 10-minute just-in-time learning opportunity to the family physician along with your answer. Refer them to a paper or share and explain an image. Adopting their question, reviewing the latest literature and summarizing the answer with an educational mindset will benefit you as much as them.
  3. Claim MOC credits: You can claim self-learning credits for one credit per article or 0.5 credits per Internet search. If the family physician's question inspires a need, problem, issue or goal related to your own professional practice, you can expand it into a Personal Learning Project for two credits per hour.

Note: An earlier version of this article used the term “general practitioner” (or GP) in place of “family physician.” We have updated the text to reflect the term preferred by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.