What Makes a Good CMEpalooza Abstract?

We work in a strange industry.

Where else can you spend days/weeks slaving over an intricate document (ie, the dreaded grant proposal) with a total inability to talk to the party that will receive your work and get a sense of their general expectations? And then have absolutely no idea whether the “denied” request was “good, but not enough,” “just OK,” or “absolutely dreadful”?

Take the following scenario for example:

Little Derek W. (I have de-identified our “fictional” subject to protect his identity) is assigned a book report by his 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Mathewson. He is allowed to pick a book of his choosing and then must write about the topic of “I would/would not recommend this book to a friend because…”

Derek W. is an avid Nancy Drew fan, so chooses the classic, The Secret of the Old Clock. But Derek W. is confused. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson to ask for her help.

“Is my ‘friend’ supposed to be a kid or an adult? And what if there are some reasons I would recommend the book, but other reasons why I wouldn’t? How long is this report supposed to be? Does it need to be handwritten or can I type out my response?”

Mrs. Mathewson completely stonewalls him. She ignores him as if he doesn’t exist (just like the girls on the playground). Derek W. asks his parents if they can help. “Sorry son. This whole book report thing is a mystery to us, too.”

So Derek W. does his best, trying to figure out what Mrs. Mathewson is looking for. A few weeks later, he gets a crumpled up note passed to him after class.

“You failed.”

Derek W. is apoplectic. Tears are streaming down his face. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson, asks her, “Why did I fail? What was wrong with my book report?”

She said, “Sorry. I can’t tell you. It could be that we had too many reports on the same book, it could be that your report didn’t align to the criteria of our grading committee, it could be that we had already given out too many other passing grades.” That’s all I can really say.

Seems rather familiar to many of us, right?

Today though, you are in luck my friend, because I am about to unlock every secret to a successful abstract submission for CMEpalooza Spring. Perhaps you noticed last week’s Call for Abstracts where we provided basic information on how to submit an abstract for our upcoming Spring event (Wednesday, April 17) and you are noodling over an idea or two.

Well, just so you don’t waste too much time, I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to guarantee* that your abstract gets accepted by our esteemed abstract review committee (* – not guaranteed):

DO – Read the guidelines carefully before you submit and follow all of the instructions
DON’T – Think to yourself, “Eh, they probably don’t mean this. I’m just going to submit for a boring, 60-minute, PowerPoint heavy presentation on a topic that is pretty dull and drab.”

DO – Recruit colleagues from a variety of professional settings. We love having a variety of viewpoints for our sessions. CMEpalooza veterans, CMEpalooza rookies – doesn’t matter.
DON’T – Only include your friend in the cube next to yours as a co-presenter. You certainly can only include people from your own organization, but there should be a reason for that beyond, “I am feeling lazy.”

DO – Submit a fresh idea that has never been presented before.
DON’T – Recycle a session that you have presented in the past at another venue. If you give it a fresh twist, great. But if you are simply submitting the same idea to us that you are presenting at another venue before CMEpalooza Spring, we can usually tell.

DO – Pay attention to the February 1 submission deadline
DON’T – Submit something on February 2. We don’t look kindly upon tardiness.

DO – Check your spelling and grammar before you submit your abstract.
DON’T – Submit an abstract written in a foreign language. Por favor.

DO – Take a chance. “I don’t know if this is going to work, but we’re willing to try” is good for CMEpalooza
DO – Think about the nuts and bolts of your session before you submit. “We think this is going to work and it’s going to be really cool” is even better
DO – Propose some sort of wacky format that is going to be fun for you, your co-presenters, and our audience. “We are super excited about this. It’s weird, but it’s going to be awesome” is even better still!

There, that should do it. A guaranteed* acceptance (* – not guaranteed).

Perhaps you have other questions for us. Great! We can answer every single one. If you are going to the Alliance next week, feel free to corner Derek and fire away. He loves talking to people for hours! (note from Derek: I do not.) Here are some topics he loves discussing to help you break the ice: fashion, tennis, Asian cuisine, dominoes, the Punic Wars, crocheting. And, of course, the Nancy Drew series.

Whoops, I just de-de-identified our “fictional” student, didn’t I? Oh well.

Submit an Abstract to Present at CMEpalooza Spring 2019 Now!

My son — who is 14-years-old and should be past this by now — has a favorite knock-knock joke that he is constantly trying to use on people, including me, whom he has told it to multiple times before. He clearly thinks I’m an idiot. Anyway, here it (WARNING: it is terrible.)

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow w-
MOOOOO!!!

I sigh deeply, roll my eyes, and think, “Here we go again…” every time he tells it. It’s very similar to how Scott and I react every time we begin planning the next CMEpalooza agenda. Not that we don’t love CMEpalooza, but getting the agenda together can be a chore, which is why the spring palooza is always my favorite. We make all of you do most of the work for us! Yay!

As always, our goal with the CMEpalooza Spring agenda is to have the CME/CE community intimately involved in its development. This year, as we did last year, we are releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for anyone to submit an idea for a CMEpalooza Spring session. This perhaps sounds more impressive than it actually is since the RFP being “released” is just this blog post, but work with me here.

We are going to try to keep the process pretty simple. If you have an idea for a session that you would like to lead at CMEpalooza Spring (Wednesday, April 17), just complete the RFP submission form below by the end of the day on Friday, February 1. After February 1, Scott and I will review all of the proposals that we have received and select at least six for the agenda. Yes, we have gotten drunk on our own self-proclaimed power and will do all the selecting ourselves.

Here are a few guidelines:

  1. This is an online conference and all sessions are done via YouTube Live (Google Hangout). All presenters must have a computer, access to a decent internet connection, and a webcam. Most laptops produced after 2010 have one built in.
  2. Proposals will only be considered if they are submitted via the RFP submission form below.
  3. The deadline for proposals to be submitted is by 9 p.m. ET on Friday, February 1.
  4. We are open to pretty much any idea as long as it’s possible for us to do via YouTube Live and it relates in some way to CME/CE. The more creative, the better.
  5. Interactive formats with multiple presenters, such as panel sessions and interviews, are encouraged. Single-person PowerPoint lectures are discouraged, unless you can convince us that it’s going to be really, really good.
  6. Please verify the availability of all presenters for the date of CMEpalooza (April 17) before submitting their name in your proposal. If you don’t, we won’t be happy. Scott will probably scowl at you when you email to tell us one of your speakers is not available. You don’t want that. Trust me.
  7. There are six categories we are looking to fill for a well-rounded agenda. They are: Outcomes, Educational Design, Technological Innovations, Commercial Support, Accreditation, and CME Potpourri (anything that doesn’t fit in the other five categories). Your proposal should align with one of these categories. Ideally, we will select one proposal for each category, but we might decide to choose multiple proposals for one category based on what we receive. It’s our conference and we can do what we want.
  8. We don’t want to limit creativity, so there isn’t a limit on the number of proposals you can submit, but use common sense and be reasonable. We will likely only choose one proposal for which you are listed as the lead contact, so don’t submit 10 proposals or something crazy like that.
  9. We will try to notify you within a week of the deadline if your proposal has been accepted or not.
  10. If you have any questions, feel free to email Derek (thecmeguy@gmail.com) or Scott (scott@medcasewriter.com) or find us at the Alliance conference in a couple weeks.

I think that about covers it. I especially want to encourage people who have never presented at CMEpalooza to submit a proposal. We are always happy to have new presenters participate, and now is as good a time as any. The RFP submission form is below. Have fun!

CMEpalooza Is Coming

Folks, I’m going to be completely honest with you here. Scott and I have been doing this for a long time now (incredibly, this upcoming CMEpalooza Spring will be the 5-year anniversary of the very first palooza. You can check out the archive for that first one here and here.)

Sometimes, I sit down to write a blog post and the words just pour out of my fingertips and I can bang it out in 15 minutes. Other times — like today, and yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that — I sit down and stare blankly at my laptop for 15 minutes before I close it and go do something else (by “something else,” I usually mean watching highlights from last year’s Super Bowl for the umpteenth time. Did you know that the Eagles won? It’s true).

I haven’t written anything for the blog since October, and I’m definitely feeling a little rusty. I don’t even have any clever anecdotes from my little holiday break, which was very pleasant and relaxing, but bereft of much action and excitement. Would you like to hear about the 1000-piece puzzle of the London skyline I worked on? Everything was going fine until someone who will remain nameless (my wife, who denies it, even though it was definitely her) left the family room door open, and the cats laid waste to Big Ben like Godzilla rampaging through downtown Tokyo. Cats, man…

Where was I? Oh, right – CMEpalooza Spring is coming on Wednesday, April 17! Woohoo! Mark it on your calendars now!

Will it be a special Game of Thrones themed CMEpalooza in honor of the final season of GoT, which is also starting in April? YES!

Hold on a minute…

[…]

OK, I’m being told by Scott that it will definitely not be a special GoT themed CMEpalooza, as that would be “ridiculous.” Fine.

What we are going to do is have an open abstract submission process for anyone to submit a presentation idea for CMEpalooza Spring. We’ll open up the submission form in a week or so and keep it open until sometime after the Alliance conference, which ends on January 26 (which also happens to be my birthday, but please don’t send me any presents like air pods, a Joel Embiid City Edition jersey (I wear a large) or a pair of size 13 Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG  Storm Blue’s). Scott and I will then review all the submissions and pick the ones we think will make up the best agenda for CMEpalooza Spring.

So, start thinking up your clever and creative ideas now! We’ll have six categories that you can submit for: Outcomes, Educational Design, Technological Innovations, Commercial Support, Accreditation, and Game of Thrones.

Hold on a minute…

[…]

OK, I’m being told by Scott that Game of Thrones is not a category and it’s actually CME Potpourri, which sounds much less fun to me. Whatever. I’m also being told by Scott to mention that CMEpalooza Fall is currently scheduled for Wednesday, October 16, so make sure you mark that in your calendars, too.

Stay tuned for more abstract submission details next week!

CMEpalooza Survey and Jokes

Scott and I are still in recovery mode after a great CMEpalooza Fall on Wednesday, so I’ll keep this brief.

If you watched any of the CMEpalooza Fall sessions, we would love to have your feedback on our survey. It is only 7 questions, and I promise it won’t take you more than 5 minutes to complete. We have 95 completions so far which is, quite frankly, a stunning amount. I’m not even sure how to process that number right now, But we still want your input if you haven’t filled it out yet.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR SURVEY!

As is tradition, here are the jokes that have been submitted on the survey thus far. They are all terrible, which means they are perfect.

Vandals destroyed the Origami Institute in Japan. We’ll keep you posted as the story unfolds.

Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field.

What kind of dog does a scientist have? A lab!

Why don’t bears wear shoes? Because they have bare feet!

What’s the difference between the Philadelphia 76ers and a dollar bill? You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill. (NOTE: whoever wrote this is now banned from CMEpalooza.)

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 Hangout?
No. You are not on the Hangout. You are only watching a video feed of the Hangout. You can play the air-horn version of a-ha’s Take on Me 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 the air-horn version of a-ha’s Take on Me at full volume while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at the office?
Yes.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at home?
Yes.

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

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall 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 Fall with LeBron James?
I don’t know. Let’s ask him.

I guess he’s busy.

Do I have to pre-register or register?
Nope.

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza Fall? 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 bake you his famous apple strudel.

Can I get a certificate for watching CMEpalooza Fall?
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 2018, here you go. I’ll also post it on the LIVE page tomorrow.

How do I ask questions to the presenters?
Good question. There are three 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
  3. Click on the Google Slides link on the LIVE page and enter your question there

We always 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. That said, there seems to have been some improvements within Google Hangouts this year, so perhaps we’ll get lucky

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 the session. How are we able to do it so fast? We have a whole new office full of interns who are real crackerjacks on the interwebs. Here they are hard at work, writing our latest blog post.

 

Guess What’s Coming This Week???

That’s right — it’s the start of the NBA season! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Also, CMEpalooza is on Wednesday. Woo.

As an additional reminder, we are actively seeking out audience questions in advance for our RFP SOS session. If you have any questions about the RFP process and why is works the way is does, now is your chance. Just go here and submit your question in the provided form. Thanks to all of you who have already sent in your questions!

Submit Your RFP Questions Now!

Do you have a burning question for the panelists of our RFP SOS session? If you do (or even if you don’t and just have something you’re mildly curious about), please submit it in the form below and Angelo, Maria, Ann Marie, and Jill will do their best to address it next Wednesday.

Maybe you are wondering why some companies put out public Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and some don’t. Maybe you are wondering who all has input in writing supporter RFPs. Maybe you want to know if you really, really, need to follow the RFP guidance on font, word count, etc. The possibilities are endless (not really – there is probably a limit somewhere).

(Side note: the last time Angelo moderated a CMEpalooza session, someone submitted a question to ask if he was married. Let’s just address that one now: Yes, he’s married. Am I annoyed that no one has every sent in a question to ask if I was married? I mean, no, but…maybe a little)

 

Back and Better Than Ever: It’s CMEpalooza Haiku

palooza haiku
like the hawk and rock & roll
it will never die

coming in one week
CMEpalooza Fall
take the whole day off

9 AM ET – CME and MACRA: The Impact for Providers

no one understands
anything about MACRA
except these two guys

10 AM ET – RFP SOS

help us angelo
we have rfp questions
you’re our only hope

11 AM ET – Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME

what’s old is now new
like this conundrum rerun
and magnum p.i.

1 PM ET – Accreditation Potpourri

it’s a potpourri
of accreditation spice
that doesn’t make scents

2 PM ET – Trust the Process (and the Terms We Use to Describe It): A Standardized Outcomes Taxonomy

’tis a noble goal
hinkie-fied outcomes standards
do you t.t.p.?

3 PM ET – What I Hate About You (aka The Gripe Session)

what I hate ’bout you
you reply all on listservs
man that drives me nuts

4 PM ET – CME 101

new to cme?
here’s a session just for you
(not literally)

The Controversy of CMEpalooza Haiku

DISCLAIMER: It’s not always easy in this era of “right vs. left” animosity to laugh about anything. This is my attempt at satire. Hopefully it works.  

For every great event, there is a history. Sometimes, this history is written down for the record. Sometimes it is told in story, passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, this history is buried deep and eventually wiped away, never to be discovered by the general public.

So yes, there is history to CMEpalooza, some of which Derek and I have hidden to both protect ourselves and to cover up some of our shameful past.

In light of recent political events, though, there is one moment that we feel we need to speak up about, and we’ll do that here, today, so that you can judge for yourselves.

It occurred early in the days of CMEpalooza, just as Derek was preparing to unleash his first batch of CMEpalooza Haikus on his adoring fans. You may now know CMEpalooza Haiku as one of our most revered (or pathetic, depending on your perspective) traditions, but like many traditions, CMEpalooza Haiku had a bumpy launch.

As he prepared the first batch of 5-7-5 verses, there were accusations levied against Derek from deep in his past, accusations that both surprised and flummoxed him. These accusations were serious, serious enough to bring into question his ability to share his poetic “skills” to the world of CMEpalooza. He was asked to testify before a group of CME/CE leaders to address these accusations.

Here is the transcript of his testimony, with no judgement or snarky asides added:

Ms. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to make my statement. I wrote it myself yesterday afternoon and evening. No one has seen a draft of it, except for my dentist, who won a poetry contest in 10th grade. This is my statement.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Richardson publicly accused me of writing a haiku with the improper number of syllables in the second line during our 10th grade English class. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically and unequivocally. All 14 of the other students in the class, including two of the accuser’s close friends, have said they recall no such haiku. One of these longtime friends said under penalty of perjury that he does not remember even reading one of my haikus.

The day after this allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted a hearing as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded a hearing the very next day. Unfortunately, it took this committee 10 days to schedule this hearing. In those 10 days, as I predicted, my family and my reputation as a haiku savant have been totally and permanently destroyed by additional vicious and false allegations.

One accuser claimed that I argued as a college junior that “occasionally” was a 4-syllable word.

Another stepped forward to accuse me of reusing the same haiku to win a poetry contest in elementary school.

Finally, and perhaps most disappointingly, my wife’s 2nd cousin claimed that he overheard me on the phone begging someone to dictate a haiku for me that would smooth over one of the disagreements that occurred early in my marriage.

When these allegations first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation by any member of the CME community. This committee now has conducted a thorough investigations, and I’ve cooperated fully. Listen to the people I know. Listen to the people who’ve known me my whole life. Listen to the people I’ve grown up with, and worked with, and played with, and coached with, and gone to 76ers games with, and had Shirley Temples with. And listen to the witnesses who were in my English class 29 years ago.

Since I first announced plans for a CMEpalooza Haiku blog post in July, there’s been a frenzy among poet laurates around the United States to come up with something, anything, to prevent CMEpalooza Haiku. Shortly after I announced plans for CMEpalooza Haiku, one individual said he would, “use every limerick, sonnet, and elegy she could write” to destroy CMEpalooza Haiku. Another individual claimed that CMEpalooza Haiku was “childish.” Childish. Think about that word. It means “like a child.” To insinuate that CMEpalooza Haiku could be written by a 7-year-old is well, OK, maybe it’s true, but it still hurts.

I understand the passions of the moment, but I would say to this committee, your words – whether they rhyme or not – have meaning. Tens of CME professionals listen carefully to you.

The behavior of the poetry and CME community has been an embarrassment. This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a venerable poet until it was clear that CMEpalooza Haiku had overcome previous hurdles and would soon be a reality.

And then – as no doubt was expected, if not planned – came a long series of false allegations designed to put my ability to create three simple 5-7-5 lines of poetry on my own in question.

Crazy stuff. Alleged midnight library raids when I have been accused of destroying Shakespeare plays. Fights on boats in Rhode Island over the merits of Robert Frost. All nonsense, reported breathlessly by my sworn enemies.

This is a circus whose consequences will extend long past the life of CMEpalooza Haiku. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good poets of all genders, colors, and creeds from writing witty haikus.

I’m here today to tell the truth. I’ve never written an illegitimate haiku in my life. Not in high school, not in college, not ever. One of my closest friends to this day writes limericks for his church group every week – he confided me in the 2000s when we were in our 30s that he had been accused as the originator of the “There once was a man from Nantucket” limerick. He sought my advice. I was one of the only people he consulted.

Allegations of poetic impropriety must always be taken seriously, always. Those who makes allegations always deserve to be heard. At the same time, the person who was the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard.

As you know, I am a child of two of the least accomplished poets of their time. My mother spent hours every Sunday trying to find a word that rhymed with “leprechaun.” My father overcame numerous taunts as the only poet in southern Delaware who focused exclusively on the obscure sestina.

My parents’ trademark line was, “Use your poetic sense. What sounds right to you? What sounds wrong?”

This onslaught of last-minute allegations does not ring true. I am not questioning that Mr. Richardson may have read an ill-constructed haiku written by some person in some place at some time. But I have never written such a haiku. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge.

Mr. Richardson’s accusation stems from an English class assignment that he alleges was given to us during the spring of 1989, 29 years ago. I have submitted to this committee a list of every homework assignment I was given during that year. Why did I keep such a list? My dad started listing every task he completed during every day of his life in 1978. He did so, well, I don’t why he did so, but he did.

In ninth grade, I started keeping lists of my own. I’ve kept such lists for the last 29 years. When I was a kid, the lists are about what you’d expect – some goofy parts, some embarrassing parts.

But I did have the spring of 1989 documented pretty well. The assignment described by Mrs. Richardson presumably was given in April because I believe we were working exclusively on a term paper about the symbolism of The Scarlet Letter during the rest of the semester.

If it was in April of 1989, my lists show that I had no time to write a haiku on top of the burden of homework that I was required to complete. Let me emphasize this point – if the assignment described by Mr. Richardson happened in April of 1989, my list shows all but definitely that I did not complete it.

One feature of my life that has remained true to the present day is that I have always had a lot of close friends who were poets. This started in high school. Maybe because I have always been socially awkward and prefer to converse in rhyme.

But anyway, I remember writing haikus nearly every night and sharing them with Barry, Jessica, Tom, Mike, Lauren, or Natalie. The list goes on – friends for a lifetime, built on a foundation of 5-7-5. Several of these colleagues left their houses for the first time in many years to be here sitting behind me today.

These friends have rallied around me to help refute these ugly allegations. If these allegations prove to be enough to destroy the life’s work of an aspiring poet, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process that define our community.

I will leave you with this thought as you judge these circumstances:

Let the haikus live

For CMEpalooza

Withers without them

CMEpalooza Haiku – coming Wednesday. Judge for yourself everyone.