The Return of “Scoop”

Last year about this time (technically, mid-January, but close enough), the COVID-19 omicron variant hit hard, causing another wave of public apprehension. Numerous organizations, including many pharma companies, quickly put a formal ban on non-essential business travel for their employees.

It was unfortunate timing for the annual meeting of the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, still the largest in-person get together for our industry. The dominos started falling around the December holidays, with more and more companies every day publicly announcing via social media that they would no longer be attending the conference. While there were still many health protocols in place onsite – required vaccinations, masking in the majority of spaces – it was still a cavernous experience for those of us who still decided to attend.

But from chaos springs opportunity!

And so, not to disappoint our loyal blog readers curious to get a sense what it was like to be back in person with some CME colleagues, “Scoop” Kober was born, roaming the conference hallways to get at the pulse of our world. He asked hard-hitting questions like, “How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?” and “What has the COVID pandemic forced your organization to get better at?” and “Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?” Extremely thought provoking and important stuff. (Note from Derek: Great, he has started referring to himself in the third person. We have crossed the Rubicon.)

Anyway, now that we are a few days out from (fingers crossed) the first “normal” Alliance conference since pre-COVID, I thought it made sense to formalize my alter ego for the return of “Scoop.” So if you see me in the hallway next week with my fancy press fedora on looking to corner unsuspecting suspects and expose the hypocrisy of the world, be careful. Your mug might just end up on these pages yourself next week. (Note from Derek: Great, now he has a hat. We are through the looking glass.)

(And yes, you can pretty much guarantee that one of the questions will be, “Who wins the Super Bowl?” There is only one right answer).

Today’s Surprise Post

After doing this for 10 years, Derek and I have a pretty consistent routine for blog posts. One of us writes up something, the other person quickly reviews and edits it (usually adding a snarky comment and/or random ’80s reference), and then we post it the next morning. We don’t have a Slack channel or Dropbox folder or anything fancy formal like that. It’s an email, maybe a text or two, and on extremely rare occasions, an actual conversation. I know that whenever “Derek” pops up on my phone that it’s something serious.

OK, it’s almost never something serious (“CMEpalooza” and “serious” simply don’t mix), but there occasionally are complex things that are easier to discuss over the phone.

Like this recent conversation:

ME: What do you want? I’m eating lunch.
DEREK: Um, it’s 3 o’clock.
ME: Fine, you caught me. I was taking a nap.
DEREK: Anyway, I had an idea. What if we…
ME: No.
DEREK: Yeah, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. Good chat. Go Sixers.

But today, I’m breaking protocol because it’s a big day for Derek, and he’s not one to enjoy being the center of attention (notice how he always sits in the back corner of every room so that no one’s eyes on are him). If he had his druthers, no one would know what I’m about to tell you.

You see, Derek turns 50 years old today. The big five-oh. Steve Mix (look it up).

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. “Geez, I thought he turned 50 years ago. I mean, he has that ‘Get off my lawn, you whippersnapper!’ routine down pat, and that usually only happens if you are 65 years or older.” What can I say, Derek matured early.

Anyway, when I asked Derek what he wants for his birthday from his adoring tolerating public, he told me two things:

  1. “A bottle of very expensive, very old bourbon.” Like this one, for example.
  2. “More abstract submissions for CMEpalooza Spring.” If you want to indulge his wish, please read all of the necessary information here. I’m supportive of this request, too. There are about 3 weeks left to come up with an idea that is going to revolutionize the world of CME. Or at least teach something to someone.

Anyway, if you want to pop into Derek’s social DMs and wish him a happy 50th in whatever fashion you think will embarrass him the most, please do so. Here is the link to his Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. He probably has a secret Tik Tok channel that he hasn’t told me about where he posts videos of yelling at neighborhood teens to, you guessed it, get off his lawn.

As for me, I will be sending my CMEpalooza partner this lanyard to wear proudly at the upcoming Alliance conference:

Look Who's All Grown Up Ready For A Colonoscopy Ceramic Ornament | Zazzle

But in all sincerity, Happy Birthday Old Man. Here’s to 50 more.

Top 5 Reasons to Submit an Abstract to Present at CMEpalooza Spring 2023

We have opened our abstract submission process for CMEpalooza Spring 2023, which you can read all about here. Submissions are due by the end of the day on Wednesday, February 15. If you are looking for motivation as to why you should consider submitting an abstract, you are in luck! Here are the Top 5 Reasons to Submit an Abstract to Present at CMEpalooza Spring 2023.

5. It’s easy. I feel confident in saying that you will not find an easier abstract submission process for a virtual conference for CME/CE professionals. Seriously, it’s only seven questions, and half of those questions are for your contact info. You don’t have to give us goals (boring), objectives (which are just goals with different verbs), headshots (we don’t care what you look like), or any of that stuff. Just tell us who you are, give us a summary of your program, and let us know if you need anything special to present it. To paraphrase the great Lionel Richie, it’s easy like Sunday morning…

4. So I don’t have to move to Glasgow, Montana. While the abstract submission process may be easy, waiting for the submissions to come in is not because what if no one submits an abstract and then we don’t have any to choose from and suddenly it’s the middle of February and we don’t have any sessions and I’m freaking out because the conference is only two months away and we don’t have an agenda and if we don’t have an agenda then we don’t have a conference and if we don’t have a conference then it will be incredibly embarrassing and I’ll have to move away to some remote destination like Glasgow, Montana which, no offense to Glasgow, Montana which I’m sure is very lovely, but is not a place I want to live and is probably very cold.

3. It’s fun. OK, maybe not fun like playing a video game is fun (side note: when I say “video game” this is still my frame of reference. Look at how glorious it is!), but fun compared to other presentations you have given. We keep a loose atmosphere, encourage terrible impersonations and cosplay, and generally laugh a lot. Also, see #5 above.

2. You get to work with us. I mean, how awesome is that? You will have the opportunity to receive emails from either Scott or me that include such witticisms as “When are you free for an A/V check?” and “Are you going to have any slides?” Wow – can you feel the magic? Let me tell you, you haven’t truly lived until you have been on a video conference with Scott and had him remind you “You’re on mute.” (note from Scott: I may even add a colorful, NSFW noun at the end of that phrase) Check that one off the ol’ bucket list.

1. It’s a good opportunity. Setting aside the snarkiness and sarcasm of the previous four reasons, speaking at CMEpalooza is a good opportunity. You get to present to a decent sized (think 200 or so) audience of your peers in a low stress environment from the comfort of, well, wherever you want to do it from. And…

[discreetly glances left and right]

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Move in closer so I can whisper it to you.

A little closer.

A little closer.

OK, not that close.

[whispering] We don’t care where you work or what your title is.

It’s true. You can be a first-year program manager or a CEO with thirty years of experience – it doesn’t matter to us. What does matter is whether or not you have a good idea for a presentation. If you do, submit it to us!