National Procedures Institute celebrates two decades of procedural training

Tags: education, national procedures institute, procedure, continuing professional development

National Procedures Institute celebrates two decades of procedural training

Twenty years ago, National Procedures Institute held its first procedural training conference, making 2009 a year for celebration. That first event was a colposcopy course in Chicago, and for founder John Pfenninger, M.D., it seems like only yesterday that he, his wife, his children and mother-in-law pulled it off. “The night before we left, we were putting the handouts together in the basement of my office at 1 a.m.,” he said.

Since then, more than 45,000 clinicians have trained with NPI, learning valuable skills to enhance their clinical practice and bring new services to their patients. Over the years, NPI has expanded to offer between 100 and 120 courses nationwide each year on more than 60 topics. In the last two years alone, almost 5,500 clinicians attended NPI courses.

A lot has changed in medicine since 1989, and NPI has kept pace, evolving to meet the needs of physicians as well as the demands of the marketplace. “When we began, people had hardly heard of aesthetic medicine,” Pfenninger said, adding that NPI began offering courses on the subject in the late 1990s. “They’ve become some of the most popular courses.”

Last year, TAFP entered a partnership with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine to purchase the company Pfenninger started in his 1,200-square-foot clinic. Pfenninger remains closely involved with the operations of NPI and believes that procedural training for primary care physicians is as relevant today as it ever has been.

“I think what is special about NPI is that we really are dedicated to the physician,” he said. Since its founding, the primary goal of NPI has been to teach primary care physicians how to perform office-based surgical procedures. “I felt that doing procedures provided continuity of care, improved the quality of care, reduced the cost of health care, provided what patients wanted and also helped physicians enjoy the field of medicine more.”

Pfenninger has the relationships and the stories to back up his claims, recounting the time a general internist approached him before a conference in Las Vegas. The internist told Pfenninger not to take offense but that he planned to leave after the morning session on the first day. He’d resolved to quit general medicine and pursue a subspecialty. “At noontime, he told me that he had changed his mind,” Pfenninger said. The internist stayed for the full two-day conference, at the end of which he told Pfenninger if he was able to do these procedures as he’d been taught, he might give general internal medicine a little more time. “After taking seven or eight of our courses, he wrote to me saying that he had decided to stay in internal medicine and that he was having the time of his life.”

For a complete course listing and to register for any of NPI’s conferences in 2009, go to