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May 23, 2017 - USA Neurologists First in Region to Earn Board Certification in Epilepsy

NaritokuOchoa-1.jpgDr. Dean Naritoku, professor and chair of neurology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and Dr. Juan Ochoa, associate professor of neurology at the USA College of Medicine, recently earned a board certification in epilepsy from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Currently, they are the only diplomates in the Mobile region who are board-certified in epilepsy. “USA attracts the leaders in the field,” Dr. Naritoku said. “This certification recognizes our expertise in the field of epilepsy and reflects the competency and knowledge of our faculty.”

The process of earning a board certification in epilepsy includes the completion of an accredited medical school and specialized training requirements in psychiatry, neurology or child neurology programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or approved by the ABPN. To achieve certification in epilepsy, candidates must also hold a valid certification in neurology or child neurology. The final step of the board certification process includes successfully passing the subspecialty examination.

According to Dr. Ochoa, specializing in a narrow field such as epilepsy is beneficial because it equips physicians with in-depth knowledge about a specific problem or disease.“About 1 percent of people have epilepsy,” Dr. Ochoa said. “It is a very complex disease that requires a high level of expertise. We definitely have a great advantage at USA.”

Dr. Ochoa said being one of only two physicians certified in epilepsy in the region is very rewarding. “I have now become a point of reference for complex cases,” he said. “When traditional treatment options fail them, patients from surrounding areas often get referred to me because of my level of expertise in the field.”

Dr. Naritoku earned his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School in Chicago, in 1981 and completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He then completed his residency training in neurology, and a fellowship in neuropharmacology and epilepsy at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Naritoku is also board-certified in neurology, clinical neurophysiology and pharmacology, and he currently serves as president of the Southern Epilepsy and EEG Society.

His clinical interests include comprehensive epilepsy management, clinical neurophysiology and sleep. His research interests include developing new therapies for epilepsy, studying brain mechanisms of seizures and dysautonomia. He has active laboratory, translational and clinical research programs and has received research funding from the NIH and the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

Dr. Ochoa earned his medical degree from the Universidad Javeriana Medicine in Bogota, Colombia, in 1988. He completed his residency training in family medicine at Jamaica Hospital in New York and his residency training in neurology at the State University of New York at Brooklyn. In addition, he completed a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., and a fellowship in medical education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

He is also board-certified in both neurology and clinical neurophysiology by the ABPN. Dr. Ochoa is the director of the neurology residency program at the USA College of Medicine and director of the SouthCEP Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at USA Medical Center. His clinical interests include clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy surgery evaluations, and his current research interests include advance seizure source localization and high frequency brain activity associated with seizures.

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology approved the application sponsored by the American Board of Medical Specialties to offer a subspecialty certification in epilepsy in 2010. The purpose of offering this certification is to officially establish the field of epilepsy as a definite area of sub-specialization in neurology and child neurology and to provide a means of identifying physicians properly trained and experienced in treating epilepsy.

Learn more here.

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