Introducing Our CMEpalooza Spring Intern!

A few weeks ago, we announced that we were going to be bringing a new voice into CMEpalooza by opening up applications for a CMEpalooza Spring intern. We were surprised and humbled by the number of applicants we received – let’s face it, the fact that anyone would voluntarily want to work alongside us is kind of surprising.

Anyway, after a rigorous review and interview process, we selected Katie O’Connell, a senior CME event coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as our Spring 2020 intern. God help her.

Special note: This has been edited by Scott for “accuracy.” Perhaps you’ll be able to figure that out.

Additional Special note (from Derek): All credit to Scott for coming up with the CMEpalooza intern idea, though I do wonder if this is part of his secret master plan to find a replacement for me. He’ll miss my haikus when I’m gone…

Hello CMEpalooza!

Katie O’Connell here reporting for her FIRST EVER CMEpalooza post! Scott, I’m still honored and excited that I was chosen, but now that this is becoming a reality, I am extremely nervous. My hands are shaking so much I just typed “RYXHYJLHG UYTHF” instead of “Scott is funnier than Derek.”

At the recently completed Alliance meeting, Megan Swartz spoke to the question of “How did I get here?” during her acceptance speech for the Frances M. Maitland Memorial Mentorship Lecture and Award (Congratulations again, Megan!!), so I figured I’d start out by answering that question.

So how did I get here?

It was a cold, snowy winter morning in the Bronx, NY, on Jan. 16 (let’s ignore the year, shall we?). The doctors told my mom on Jan. 15 to “Enjoy your weekend. There is no way the baby is coming early.” But then, SURPRISE. She took me home to a place that seemed huge as I was growing up (a recent visit proved otherwise). I enjoyed Irish dancing, karate, basketball, and softball growing up.

Oh, wait, you don’t really care how I actually got here as a person on this planet? You just want to want to know how I got here, like, how I ended up in CME. OK, fine, let’s jump forward to my CME journey.

As with many of us in this field, I ended up in CME not by choice but by accident. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and started working at a healthcare staffing agency. I joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2014 where I worked in the human recourses department as an onboarding coordinator. It wasn’t long before I found the job to be repetitive and sought out new challenges. Sensing my boredom, the Vice President of Human Resources asked me if I was interested in helping out the CME department with a project. That project turned into a new career.

So here I am 3.5 years later, where almost every day I learn something new, and now I get the opportunity to learn and engage my peers in a whole new outlet that I’m excited and nervous about (ugh, I meant to write “Scott is smarter than Derek” and it came out “GHRFJKK GRUYKIG NHTDJK”).

I enjoy reading the CMEpalooza posts and watching the videos not just because they add laughter to my day but because I always take something away from them. I had read the post about the CMEpalooza intern and thought that would be new and exciting, but shrugged it off at first. Then I woke up the morning of the deadline thinking about the CMEpalooza intern opportunity and thought, “What do I have to lose? They probably won’t pick you anyway.” Well, to my shock, they did! Thank you, Scott and Derek, for the opportunity. I hope to live up to everyone’s expectation of the first ever CME Spring Intern. If anyone wants to share what those expectation are, please do!  I’ll try my best to be little bit funny and bring AHA moments to your day.

Hey, What’s the Big Idea There Fella?

And we’re back from another year of the Alliance conference where Derek once again won the late-evening talent show with his surprisingly catchy rendition of Supertramp’s Take the Long Way Home on the glockenspiel. I tell you, the hidden talents that guy has are truly astounding.

I, meanwhile, devoted a good deal of my time to thinking. I know what you are saying – “Um, er, aren’t you always thinking?” Sometimes, yes, yes I am, although that thinking is often more focused on “How do I get done what I need to get done today?” This thinking was more devoted to strategic thinking, where I was able to sit, listen, and consider how what other people were talking about could be adapted to future planning for my business. For me, that’s one of the most valuable things about full-day or multi-day events (such as CMEpalooza) — it allows me to shut down the “fight or flight” part of my brain and think creatively and strategically.

It goes without saying that there are many creative people in our industry – one of my favorite things to do is to go up to colleagues and ask, “So, what interesting things are you working on?” Not only does this allow people to do what they often do best — talk about themselves — but it also will sometimes spark an idea in my head about something I can adapt to my business. Some of the best CMEpalooza session ideas are sparked in this way, and I jotted down a few notes for things you may see from us later this year.

A few other notes for you:

  1. I was very excited to get a chance to try out the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality device that was featured in one session. “Maybe, if you are nice to us, you can come up after the session and try it out,” they told me the day before the session. I guess I wasn’t very nice because they packed that thing up faster than this guy ate a watermelon. Eh, I probably wouldn’t have trusted me either.
  2. I took up the heroic San Francisco challenge of, “I’m going to keep walking uphill until I can’t walk uphill any more” one evening. Two hours later, I think I touched a cloud. Or maybe that was just a mirage. Not one of my brightest ideas.
  3. Maybe most importantly, Derek and I met our CMEpalooza Spring intern! You’ll be hearing from her later this week, so her identity will remain a secret for now (ooohh, the suspense!). She was both “honored and excited” to meet us in person. Needless to say, those feelings went away pretty quickly once she saw who she was dealing with. I was just happy Derek didn’t spill his drink on her.


Choose Your Own (Alliance) Adventure – 2020

Well, another Alliance annual conference is upon us, though a bit earlier this year. I’m still slogging my way through all the email that built up over the holidays, just in time to leave for a few more days and get even more email. The solution to this problem is obvious: ban email. Who’s with me??

For those of you unable to attend the annual conference this year, we at CMEpalooza are here to help. While your colleagues are holed up in a conference room somewhere in San Francisco, why not take one day this week to create your own personal annual conference?

We’ve recently updated the CMEpalooza Archive page to include all of the sessions from CMEpalooza Fall 2019, and there are now over 100(!) different (free) educational sessions for you to choose from. You can easily put together a whole week’s worth of faux-annual conference days if you want to (Don’t do that. You have better things to do with your time, like writing an essay explaining why Hot Wheels are superior to Matchbox cars.)

To help get you started, I’ve taken the liberty of attempting to re-create a typical day at the Alliance conference, but using archived CMEpalooza sessions for the agenda. These are just suggested sessions; feel free to substitute in any of the other sessions and choose your own annual conference adventure.

The night before: Drink a few too many adult beverages (I recommend a Manhattan with Bulleit Rye) and stay up a minimum of two hours past your usual bedtime. This is a critical step in preparing for the next day’s learning experience. Also, set out your running clothes so you are ready for an early morning run before the conference starts.

6:00 a.m. (everyone else): Turn off your alarm and go back to sleep. Curse yourself for drinking too much and/or going to bed too late. Scowl at the waiting running clothes mocking you from their place on the shelf.

Breakfast: Get out of bed and walk to the coffee shop around the corner to eat breakfast. Remind yourself of the promise you made to eat healthier this year. Order a breakfast sandwich and mocha anyway. Pat yourself on the back for getting your bacon, egg, and cheese on a whole grain bagel.

9:00 a.m. Keynote: Back to the Future (of CME)
What better way to kick off your conference than with a look back at the future of CME?

10:00 a.m. Keynote Discussion: Hop on the Twitters and share your thoughts on the keynote address using the #CMEpalooza hashtag. Send an email to one of your colleagues or to Scott with your key takeaways and ask for their opinion. I’m busy, remember.

Break: Grab an overbrewed coffee and tell anyone around (including your pets) that you are going to your room to check email. Turn on the TV and watch SportsCenter instead.

11:00 a.m. Plenary Session: Can You Define and Articulate the Value of Your Education?
Dwindling budgets, inconsistent results, lack of organizational support for IME, lack of standardized reporting, lack of consistent operational definitions for learners, and many, many more… these represent a few of the many reasons why deciding which grant to support is becoming ever more critical for our IME stakeholders. A “failed” educational program is not a luxury most supporters can afford. Through interactive panel discussions, members of the MEC and IME communities discuss best practices,take viewer questions, and hear examples on the following topics:

  1. Can we define value as a return on educational investment? (NOT ROI)
  2. Beyond pre/post, how can providers better define educational outcomes in terms of the value of the education to the patient, the clinician learners, the provider, and the supporter?
  3. How can IME build a better story that demonstrates the value of educational investments by extracting outcomes data from a myriad of reporting styles?
  4. Building a better grant – how can providers help IME committees see the potential value of the education through the grant request?
  5. For IME, what elements should committees look for in a grant request that reduce risk, and which are red flags?
  6. How can supporters share return on educational investment with their respective internal teams (medical affairs, commercial, etc.)?
  7. When is the appropriate time to report outcomes?

Lunch: To really recreate the conference experience, go gaze in your refrigerator at the free food available to you. Decide you don’t like any of the options provided because they either don’t appeal to you or aren’t healthy enough. Go out to eat at the closest restaurant to you with the intention of ordering a salad and glass of water. Order a hamburger and fries instead. For the sake of authenticity, pay the confused waitress $45 for the food.

1:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Nobody Puts Outcomes in the Corner
It’s been more than 10 years since Don Moore’s pivotal article on outcomes levels was released, revolutionizing the CME industry’s thinking and approach to outcomes. But has Moore put us in a corner? Rather than being creative with our approach to measuring outcomes, we are stuck in a pyramid of levels that pushes us to try to collect and analyze data that might not be ideal for all educational interventions. This session will include representatives from pharma, medical education companies, and academia as they discuss the hot topic of Level 5 outcomes and if and where it fits into education.

The session will begin with a focus on aligning the outcomes measure to meet the identified gaps and goals of the program along with the preferences of the commercial supporter, as well as share barriers and problems with standard performance-level outcomes. The second half of the session will focus on the importance of reporting to stakeholder and what elements of outcomes (Moore’s, TELMS, others) are of most value to whom. Members of the panel will use case studies and experience to describe creative solutions to assessing performance change.

Break: Click over to the Exhibit Hall (ie, Sponsor page) and gaze in amazement around the companies who have signed up for CMEpalooza Spring 2020 so far (“Geez, I wonder how we could be like them”). In order to replicate the true exhibit hall experience, invite a family member/colleague/neighbor/pet to come into the room and then avoid making eye contact while you read more about the sponsors. After you’re done, tell them you need to check email, but go on Facebook instead and update your status (“OMG I am at the BEST conf EVERRRRRRR!!! lol YOLO, amirite???”)

3:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Jake Powers, CME Detective – Accreditation with Complications
The cigarette smoke rises slowly. The bourbon goes down easily. A dame raps incessantly on my door. She has a problem. A CME problem, of course. That’s why people come to me. They have problems and I fix them. I’m Jake Powers, the world’s only CME Detective.

The gritty underbelly of continuing medical education awaits me, where shadowy corners hide compliance issues and guidelines are always just around the corner. Care to join me? You sure you can handle it? Ready to solve some CME mysteries?

Yes? Good. Then take a shot of courage and grab your fedora and trench coat. We’ve got work to do. The CME industry needs us.

Reception: Invite a bunch of people over to your house for drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. As they come in the door, ask each person for I.D. in order to verify it is the person you invited. Give them each two tickets they can redeem for drinks and glare at them if they ask for another. Make sure you have a giant cheese ball, because a reception just isn’t a reception without a cheese ball. Walk around for 10 minutes, pretend to get an urgent phone call, and stride quickly out the door with the phone to your ear. Leave. Hopefully, when you come back home in 2 hours, everyone will have left for the lobby bar at the nearest hotel.


Finally, Something Both Sides of the Aisle Can Agree Upon

Let’s go ahead and make a prediction – you are going to be exhausted by all of the election talk by, oh, January 10. In fact, many of you probably already are.

One thing, though, we can promise you – pulling the lever for a CMEpalooza sponsorship is always going to be a winning choice. While we won’t viciously target you in a tweet if your organization decides against a sponsorship in 2020, we will surely give you a very public pat on the back if you make the wise business decision to climb aboard our campaign.

Yes indeed, the voters have spoken and CMEpalooza will be back for its sixth year, with the usual Spring and Fall meetings on tap. You can mark your calendars now if you want to – Wednesday, April 15 and Wednesday, October 14.

We are again inviting CME providers, supporters, and service companies to take advantage of sponsorship opportunities with CMEpalooza Spring and Fall in 2020. There were 31 organizations who sponsored CMEpalooza in 2019, and we hope that even more forward-thinking organizations stuff the sponsorship ballot box this year. There are already a number of sponsors who have climbed aboard as early supporters of CMEpalooza (check them out on our Sponsor page). Join them, won’t you?

Don’t forget that we were way way way ahead of the game with this FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL thing. That’s Fake News as far as we’re concerned. CMEpalooza was free for all learners, is free for all learners, and will continue to be free to all learners.

Here is a link to our 2020 Sponsor Prospectus. There are individual and package sponsorships available, as well as other creative opportunities to promote your company. We’ve thrown a few new goodies out again this year as well. If there is anything particularly creative you have in mind, come talk to us. No matter what your political persuasion may be, we’ll be happy to work with you on a suitable compromise.

Derek and I will be leading the CMEpalooza caucus out at the Alliance conference this week if you have any questions or simply want to make a non-tax deductable contribution to our campaign. We’ll probably use it to buy ad time on your local public television network between the hours of 2:48 and 2:58 am on a random Tuesday night.

CMEpalooza Intern Applications Due Friday

You may have missed it as you queued up for another cup of grog at the company holiday party, but we announced last month that we are taking on our first ever CMEpalooza intern. Since we know everyone has a lot on their minds during the last few days of the year, we decided to keep the application process open until Friday, January 3. That’s tomorrow. So, um, don’t wait too much longer if you are interested. Here is a direct link to the very short application.

Why should you want to be the CMEpalooza intern for Spring 2020? I’m glad you asked, friend.

  1. It’s something different. I know, you are groaning already about another RSS you need to schedule or that budget you need to complete, and it’s only the first work day of 2020. Guess what? There will be no drudgery assignments for the CMEpalooza intern. You get to have fun and be creative.
  2. We’ll work with you to make sure you get to learn what you want to. Really, our expectations for the CMEpalooza intern are low. You’ll write a blog post or two, preferably having something to do with CME (or ’80s pop culture), and we’ll include you in some of the planning for a Spring 2020 session. Beyond that, we’re flexible.
  3. You will get to make fun of Derek to your hearts desire. I am somewhat more sensitive so wisecracks aimed at me must be limited to 2 per day.
  4. We will give you 100% of the revenue from learner registration to CMEpalooza Spring. That’s right, all of it. Every single cent. Oh, ahem, did we mention that CMEpalooza is free? Sorry about that.

I am sure there are many, many more benefits to being the CMEpalooza Spring 2020 intern, but I still have a gallon of leftover egg nog to deal with. So if you’ll excuse me…

The Best Gig Ever: CMEpalooza Intern

Hello everyone. We’re back. Did you miss us?

Yes indeed, the CMEpalooza caravan is in operation once again after a much-needed rest following our Spring and Fall successes in 2019. Our staff returned recently from a week-long retreat in luxurious and balmy Pekin, IL, where we broke down the data on CMEpaloozas past and made plans for CMEpaloozas future. We’ve got some fun things in store for 2020, which we’ll get to, er, eventually.

We are here today, though, with some exciting news – we’re hiring! Well, sort of. OK, we’re not really hiring someone who will actually be paid, but we are looking to bring another energetic and entertaining voice into the CMEpalooza family in 2020. After six years of putting up with us making fun of each other in less and less creative ways, you deserve a new perspective, which is why we are officially opening up the process to select a CMEpalooza Spring 2020 Intern.

We thought of opening up the CMEpalooza coffers to put a flashy ad up on to attract applicants from around the world, but then we realized we didn’t have any coffers to open and so we had to settle for the corporate blog. Good news for you though – you now likely won’t be competing with anyone from the Seychelles for this gig.

So what exactly are the expected duties of the CMEpalooza Spring 2020 Intern?

  1. You’ll have the opportunity to contribute to the CMEpalooza blog at your leisure. Maybe once a month or so. You can write about just about anything that won’t offend people. Scott is in charge of the offensive material.
  2. We’ll have you shadow one of us virtually as we plan a CMEpalooza session. You’ll learn how the proverbial sausage is made. Maybe you’ll even pick up a thing or two that you can incorporate into your real job. You’ll likely even have the chance to show up on camera during a Spring session so you can show your doubting friends and family that, yes, you are officially part of the CMEpalooza team.
  3. You will spend every other Saturday with a bullhorn outside of your state capitol building singing the CMEpalooza fight song for 2 hours (optional duty)

What qualifications are we looking for?

  1. You should be working in CME in some capacity
  2. You should have a thick skin – it’s pretty certain that we will make fun of you at some point
  3. You should not be a Dallas Cowboys or Boston Celtics fan (sorry, we have to draw the line somewhere)

Beyond that, we’re open to anyone. Maybe you have only worked in CME for 1 year and want to learn more about our industry? Great. Maybe you’ve worked in CME for 25 years and want to do something fun in 2020? Also great. Maybe it’s been your lifelong dream to meet Derek and you think that this is your chance? You need professional help.

While this is an unpaid position, Derek has promised to send our CMEpalooza Spring 2020 Intern a half-eaten box of Thin Mints as a personal thank you (note from Derek: Very clever idea, Scott. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a half eaten box of Thin Mints.)

The application process for the CMEpalooza Spring 2020 Intern is simple and short. Fill out a brief questionnaire by clicking on this link to apply. Every answer is vitally important so please think before you respond. The application process will close on Friday, January 3, at which time a special task force will cull through the applications to select our winner. You can email us if you have any questions (our email address is on this site somewhere – you just need to find it).

A Brief Thank You and Apology

Another CMEpalooza has come and gone and Scott and I are so thankful and appreciative for everyone who participated, whether as a faculty member or as a participant. We could not — would not — do it without all of your support and it is a thrill for us to see the positive response CMEpalooza continues to get. Now, we need a few days/weeks/months to recover, recharge, and do it all over again!

I also want to take a moment to address a comment that was made on the CMEpalooza survey that we ask participants to complete. The comment stated that the “distracted boyfriend” meme I posted yesterday morning to promote CMEpalooza Day was “inappropriate and objectified women” and that we should apologize.

They are correct. I am the one who posted it and it was a bad judgement call by me. I have removed it and offer my sincere apologies to all. If anyone cares to discuss it or anything else related to CMEpalooza, you are welcome to send me a direct email at Thank you.

Great Big CMEpalooza Quiz Answers

Thank you to everyone who participated in our wrapup session to CMEpalooza, The Great, Big, Play at Home in Your Jammies CME Quiz. We know covered a lot of information in a very short amount of time. Consequently, our faculty was kind enough to put together this document explaining all of the answers and providing detailed rationale. If you want to argue or disagree with any of these explanations, that’s why we provide links to all of our faculty LinkedIn pages on the agenda tab 🙂

Where Do I Watch CMEpalooza Fall?

Where do I watch CMEpalooza Fall?
You watch it on the LIVE page.

Will people be able to hear me on the broadcast?
No. You are not on the broadcast. You are only watching a video feed of the broadcast. You can play It’s Raining Tacos at full volume and no one will hear you except your neighbors, who might call the police, who might interrupt you while watching CMEpalooza. So, don’t play It’s Raining Tacos at full volume while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza at the office?

Can I watch CMEpalooza at home?

Can I watch CMEpalooza in a conference room with 150 other people?
Please do.

Can I watch CMEpalooza while at a coffee shop?
That depends. Will you be drinking a skinny latte while watching? If yes, then no, you may not watch CMEpalooza Fall while at a coffee shop.

Can I watch CMEpalooza with the Real Housewives of New York?
I don’t know. Let’s ask them.

I guess they are busy.

Do I have to pre-register or register?

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza? I love paying registration fees.

No. You don’t have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza.

Do I have to take a survey afterward?
Well, you don’t have to, but it would be nice if you did. It’s only seven questions and shouldn’t take you more than 60 seconds. If it takes you more than 60 seconds, Scott will come to your house and perform Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry on the accordion.

Can I get a certificate for watching CMEpalooza?
Actually, yes. Well, kind of. We’re not accredited or certified or anything like that, and we have no way of verifying whether you actually watched any of these sessions or not. But if you want a certificate of completion that you can use to self-report participation in CMEpalooza Fall 2019, here you go. I’ll also post it on the LIVE page tomorrow. Who knows, maybe these certificates will be worth something 2,000 years from now.

How do I ask questions to the presenters?
Good question. There are two ways you can ask questions:

  1. Send a text to the CMEpalooza text line at 267-666-0CME (0263)
  2. Tweet a question using the #CMEpalooza hashtag

We try to get to as many questions as we can throughout each presentation.

Do I have to watch all the sessions?
YES! No. Watch what interests you.

Will the sound quality for each presenter be crystal clear with consistent volume and no glitches?
No. Will it be pretty good for most presenters? Yes. There will be some who sound better than others. There may be a few glitches and hiccups. That’s just how it goes with a free conference where presenters volunteer their time and use their own equipment. Some people aren’t comfortable doing a presentation while wearing headphones and a mic, so we don’t force them to use it. We do the best that we can with what we have available to us.

What if I’m busy during the day of the live broadcast?
All the sessions will be archived on the website, probably within 15 minutes of the conclusion of each session. How are we able to do it so fast? We have a new intern who is a real crackerjack on the interwebs. Here he is hard at work, writing our latest blog post.


Everything You Need to Know for CMEpalooza Week

I usually let Derek take the lazy way out in the blog with Top 10 lists, but we’re busy what with CMEpalooza Fall going live in less than 48 hours and all, so here are a few quick things to keep in mind:

  1. It goes without saying that you should either have blocked off your calendar by now or plan to call in sick on Wednesday. Really, there isn’t anything more important you should be doing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.
  2. If you suddenly get hungry, we have even built in a lunch break (or breakfast break if you are on the left coast) this year thanks to one of our Gold sponsors, AcademicCME. No, unfortunately, they will not be picking up the tab for your lunch. You’ll still have pay $6.99 for a McRib, which apparently is back again (Note from Derek: gross.) I’m not quite sure why.
  3. We’ll be using Poll Everywhere for a few of our sessions this year to get some interaction going. If you want to get a head start on things, you can download the app in the Apple store or Google Play for your mobile device. You don’t need to have the app, but I find it helpful to have it on my phone.
  4. We’re using a brand-new platform this year for our sessions called StreamYard. From the perspective of the viewer and panelist, you won’t note much of a difference. There are some different sorts of camera views we’ll be using, but otherwise, CMEpalooza will look the same as always. So then why am I telling you this? Hmm, good question. Moving on.
  5. When you have a few free moments, go look at our sponsors and check out some of the great work others are doing in CME/CE. I actually met one of our sponsors last week in person for the first time at one of their activities (I was helping at a program in an adjoining room). As with all of our sponsors, they seemed like good people.
  6. Feel free to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. to tell all of your friends and colleagues how cool you are by being a fan of CMEpalooza. Best fan post gets a virtual hug from Derek. He’s a cuddler.
  7. We encourage our live audience to ask questions during our sessions. We aren’t one of those annoying meetings where we hold all questions until the end of each session (God do I hate that). If you have a good question that is relevant to what our panel is talking about, we don’t mind butting in to ask it. There are several ways that will be listed on our LIVE page to ask questions. If your question is a good one, we’ll make sure it gets asked. If it’s bad, well, we may ignore you. Sorry.
  8. Want to offer some wardrobe suggestions for Derek and I during individual sessions? We’re game. I believe I saw a feather boa somewhere in Derek’s office (Room 421B in CMEpalooza HQ, right next to the trash chute). It’s not like we haven’t had panelists do dress-up sessions before. Derek and I have simply tried to uphold some sort of professional standards in the past. I think it’s time we admit that we have failed.
  9. There will once again be a survey after each session where we rely on your feedback to help plan future sessions. And to replenish our joke bucket (a recent fave: Did you hear about the fire at the cheese factory in France? All that was left was de brie).
  10. It’s almost time for tipoff, so let’s have a song everyone.