Over the years I have developed a deep sense of appreciation for those teachers who have been instrumental in helping me gain the skill and training I needed in areas I love. It probably started with my football coach, John Day. It was certainly true with my mentor, Dr. Jack Turner, who took me from being a barely academically eligible student to being his “best.” This belief became cultural during my martial arts training as one’s Sensei is given great respect for the knowledge and skill passed from teacher to student could mean the difference between that person and their family living or dying in ancient times. Dr. Mark George and his colleague, Dr. Colleen Hanlon rose to that level during my recent immersion in Dr. George’s Brain Stimulation Course. Although I attended the course so I would be up to date with the fundamentals, mechanisms and use of TMS, the title lets you know it was not just about rTMS. The CME portion of the course was focused on TMS but the rest of the course focused on Brain Stimulation which involved the ever expanding world of neuromodulation. Like the journal where he is the editor, Brain Stimulation, we received lectures and hand on experience with other areas like theta burst, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation and tDCS.
As anticipated, the lectures were clear, enlightening, in depth and all data/research driven. Explanations of mechanisms of action that were not know ten years ago were detailed. Being in a rural area the only physician between Denver and Salt Lake City, I have only read about some of the research procedures used and being able to see them helped immensely in understanding how researchers get their data.
I was most impressed with Dr. George. As the Godfather of clinical TMS, he was a brilliant educator who can take complex information and make it logical and understandable in his lectures. To hear his conceptual view of the brain as an electrochemical organ and see how the data easily fit into their individual areas was to consolidate my last 10 years of reading and more recently practicing TMS. Equally impressive was his ease of saying he did not know or that a question would make a good research topic when asked speculative questions.
Dr. George is warm, humble, funny, and an excellent and patient teacher. The class was filled with a number of researchers from Stanford, several Ph.D’s and Ph.D candidates as well as several of us clinicians. With the diverse backgrounds of the participants, Dr. George easily made the content interesting and germane to all in attendance. His lectures were excellent, on point and extremely informative. He said he had modeled the course after his own experience of being able to absorb a great deal of information in the morning but it becomes increasingly difficult to listen to and absorb information as the day goes on. Thus we had lectures in the morning and hands on interactive experiences in the afternoon.
One of the highlights of the Godfather’s lectures was his describing his journey to his pioneering of rTMS. Dr. George has always been a researcher and it was fascinating to hear how his revolutionary positive findings were initially suppressed and caused him to lose a research position. When he sat back in his chair and put his hands on the chest it was a signal that we were about to a wonderful story.
Needless to say, I found the course stimulating, informative and worth the time and cost to attend. My disappointment in leaving is assuaged only by knowing I will be able to hear him speak at the upcoming Clinical TMS Society’s Annual Meeting.
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