STD Quarterly: How do you get your STD skills up to speed?

What are some tips to get your clinical skills up to speed on the state-of-the-art treatment and protocols in diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Look at the following ideas suggested by Ward Cates, MD, MPH, president of Family Health International in Research Triangle Park, NC, and is author of the chapters on reproductive health infections and vaginal spermicides in Contraceptive Technology (1998, Ardent Press). Cates addressed STD topics at the 2002 Contraceptive Technology conferences.

Await publication of the 2002 STD Treatment Guidelines. The guidelines, which are issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should be published this spring in CDC’s publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says Cates. It then will be available on the CDC’s web site, www.cdc.gov, for access and downloading.

Check out training opportunities through the National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers. The National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers is a CDC-funded group of regional centers, created in partnership with health departments and universities, dedicated to increasing the knowledge and skills of health professionals in the areas of sexual and reproductive health.

Ten centers provide STD clinical training, four centers provide behavioral and social interventions training, and four centers provide partner services and program support training. The courses offer great practical clinical updates, says Cates.

The STD clinical training courses provide up-to-date information to public and private clinicians who diagnose, treat, and manage patients with STDs. Most courses devote 50% of class time to clinical and laboratory experience under the guidance of a qualified preceptor. Standard clinical training courses are three to five days in length, but centers also offer clinical training courses in the following formats: one- to two-hour "grand rounds," teleconferencing, home study, on-site courses (upon request), and web-based courses. Exact course offerings vary by location, so contact the center serving your geographic area for additional information and a schedule of courses.

Visit the network’s web page at http://depts.washington.edu/nnptc/, or contact the individual centers at the following telephone numbers: Seattle (206) 685-9850; Berkeley, CA (510) 883-6600; Denver (303) 436-7226; St. Louis (314) 747-0294; Cincinnati (513) 357-7308; Dallas (214) 819-1947; Austin, TX (512) 490-2535; Tampa, FL (813) 307-8000, ext. 4599; Baltimore (410) 396-4448; New York City (212) 788-4419; Albany, NY (518) 474-1692; and Jamaica Plain, MA (617) 983-6945.