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Featured Speaker: Thomas Ward Bishop

Head for the Hills 2016 is fast approaching! Are you still looking for a reason to join us? Why not attend Dr. Thomas Ward Bishop’s presentation, entitled “BREAKING BAD NEWS: Communicating a Difficult Diagnosis or Lifestyle Change”?

Breaking bad news is not something that most providers are eager to try. Dilbert’s advisor Dogbert says: “Never break bad news…it will only get you in trouble.” And stories abound about how unskilled physicians blundered their way through an important conversation, sometimes resulting in serious harm to the patient. Many patients with cancer, for example, can recall in detail how their diagnosis was disclosed, even if they remember little of the conversation that followed, and they report that physician competence in these situations is critical to establishing trust.

Some providers contend that breaking bad news is an innate skill, like perfect pitch, that cannot be acquired otherwise. This is incorrect. Providers who are good at discussing bad news with their patients usually report that breaking bad news is a skill that they have worked hard to learn. Furthermore, studies of physician education demonstrate that communication skills can be learned, and have effects that persist long after the training is finished.  The aim of this presentation will be to review specific skills and strategies in addressing “bad news” with patients and their families.  There will be active engagement and participation from participants.

Reserve your seat now!

Featured Speaker: Kathy Hosig

What will you be doing September 30? Why not join us at GMEC’s annual conference and retreat, Head for the Hills, and learn from our featured experts while enjoying southwest Virginia’s natural beauty?  For just a taste of what we will be offering, take a look at this session summary for Dr. Kathy Hosig, included below.

Nutrition Tips for Your Patients 

Rural residents often face unique and significant barriers to following advice regarding diet and physical activity.  Issues such as poverty, access to healthy foods and safe opportunities for physical activity, lack of social support and limited health literacy may make achieving lifestyle change particularly difficult.  Lessons learned from working with rural and underserved populations will be shared.  Specific examples of strategies to help patients follow your recommendations will be discussed.

Kathy Hosig, PhD, MPH, RD, Associate Professor
Director, Virginia Tech Center for Public Health Practice and Research
Department of Population Health Sciences
Virginia Tech

Don’t miss out; reserve your seat today!

Featured Speaker: Sarah Hazelwood, DO

What are some of the topics that will be discussed at this year’s Head for the Hills conference? Check out the description of Dr. Sarah Hazelwood’s presentation below!

“Don’t head for the hills: Managing psychotropic side effects in the primary care setting”

A discussion of commonly prescribed psychotropic medications that primary care physicians may encounter, including drug side effect profiles, and strategies to manage those side effects.

Registration is now open.

Head for the Hills Featured Experts

Olivette Burroughs and Justin Crow from the VDH Office of Health Equity will be on hand to provide information about Virginia’s Primary Care Office programs.  Virginia’s Primary Care Office administers or provides technical support for a variety of federally-funded recruitment and retention and shortage designation programs, including:

  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment & Scholarship Programs
  • NHSC Site Approval
  • Recruiting providers using the NHSC Jobs Center
  • NURSE Corps
  • Virginia State Loan Repayment
  • The J-1 Visa Program
  • Health Professional Shortage Area Designations
  • Medically Underserved Areas/Populations

Don’t miss out; register for Head for the Hills 2016 today!


Featured Speaker: Jane Bennett

Physicians know how to treat cancer patients on a physiological basis, but what are individuals seeking when it comes to emotional care? How can providers help clients cope with mental health stressors and survivor’s guilt, especially when mental health is not their primary field? What are the top concerns cancer patients would like addressed by their medical teams?

Jane Bennett is a United States Congress federal retiree, former emergency manager, and former town manager.  She is also a six-year, stage two breast cancer survivor, patient advocate, and published contributing author of a compilation of stories written by cancer survivors. Drawing from Jane’s unique encounters and experiences in the world of oncology, this session will highlight key perceptions and critiques of the treatment centers, support groups, and use of social media from the patient’s perspective.

Be sure to catch Jane’s insights at Head for the Hills 2016. Registration is now open.

CME Credit Opportunity

Looking for yet another reason to come to this year’s Head for the Hills event? You could be eligible to receive up to 7 prescribed credits in continuing medical education from the American Academy of Family Physicians (see below).

This Live activity, Head for the Hills, with a beginning date of 09/29/2016, has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 7.00 Prescribed credits by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Additional Comments: No credit was awarded to the breakout session(s) titled, “Debt Forgiveness with VDH; Careers Residents Might Not Be Thinking About; Preparing for Retirement/Attracting New Docs.”

Registration is now open; reserve your seat today!

Featured Speaker: Dr. Kathy Wibberly

Come listen to Dr. Wibberly’s presentation, What Doctors Need to Know about Telehealth, at this year’s Head for the Hills event!

Back to the Future!  The first physicians in the world were generalists who provided all of the medical care available.  They diagnosed and treated illnesses, performed surgery and delivered babies.  About 75 years ago, all of this started to change.  Specialization began to flourish, as did fragmentation of care.  Rural physicians continue to be the “jack of all trades” and rural families have benefited from some of the best coordinated care in the U.S.

Around that same time period, another shift also occurred.  In the early 1900s, much of health care took place in the patient’s home; then care began to move from the home to the clinic setting.  Whereas once a physician visited a patient in their home, often multiple times for a single complaint, now the patient is typically placed in a ten minute block in a clinic setting.  Neither physician or patient are particularly satisfied with this approach.  Canadian Family Physician noted that most commonly cited reasons for practitioners’ being unable to do house calls were the lack of efficiency, the time required, and poor reimbursement.   Enter telehealth and virtual care.

Findings from a 2014 survey of 1,557 U.S. family physicians by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care “confirm that family physicians see promise in the ability of telehealth to improve access to primary care service” and “suggest that telehealth is on the cusp of advancing from a tool used occasionally to a tool implemented on a routine basis.” Barriers to telehealth adoption include lack of training, reimbursement, cost of equipment and concerns about liability.  In this session, learn how you and your practice can overcome the most common barriers to using telehealth, and enable the “virtual” home visit to become a tool for increasing satisfaction and engagement for both you and your patient.

− Kathy Hsu Wibberly, PhD
Director, Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center University of Virginia Center for Telehealth

Don’t forget to register for Head for the Hills 2016 today!

Head for the Hills Agenda

GMEC is pleased to present the agenda for our 2016 annual conference and retreat, Head for the Hills, below! Come unwind, dine, and play with us for two days in the beautiful Hungry Mother State Park while learning from some of Virginia’s leading rural health experts. Families of attending medical professionals are very welcome and activities have been planned for your enjoyment.

Head for the Hills 2016 Schedule:
Hungry Mother State Park, Marion, VA

Friday Sept. 30

7:00 a.m.

Registration opens
Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available

Child care can be provided 8-noon for those requesting it.


Continental breakfast available


Kathy Hosig, PhD, MPH, RD Virginia Tech


Lorenzo Pence, DO, FACOFP, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

9:40 -10:00

BREAK (fruit provided)


Clinical Documentation Toolbox
Nora Blankenbecler, Director, Health Information Technology Certification Program, Mountain Empire Community College


PSYCHIATRY IN SW VA: What Primary Care Physicians Should Know –
Sarah Hazelwood, DO, Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Marion, Virginia


HABIT AND HABITUS: A Faith-based Health Initiative (Resident Presentation) –
Dr. Troy Reece, PGY2, Johnston Memorial Hospital Family Medicine Residency



FREE REST OF DAY – Group rates are available at the historic Lincoln Theatre in downtown Marion. Hikes, the beach, paddle boats, and other activities are available within the park. Several restaurants are available in town. There is no communal dinner, but GMEC is happy to provide your evening meal in the park, same set menu, available during restaurant hours; because of the many options available via the park and town, we are not planning to offer children’s entertainment.

Saturday Oct. 1

7:30 a.m.

Breakfast and registration

Child care can be provided 8-noon for those requesting it.


Kathy Wibberly, PhD, Director, Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center at University of Virginia





Required check out from your cabin; luggage may be brought to the lecture hall


Jane Bennett, Cancer Survivor and Advocate


BREAKING BAD NEWS: Communicating a Difficult Diagnosis or Lifestyle Change –
Thomas Ward Bishop


Sue Cantrell, MD, LENOWISCO Health District Director, VDH


Secretary Bill Hazel, MD, Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources


Box lunches will be provided; eat at your leisure in the conference center, or take it with you if you need to depart.

Please feel free to stay and enjoy the park after the conference concludes!