The First Curveball of the Year

Technically, pitchers and catchers won’t report for nearly 2 months (it’s a baseball thing in case you are scratching your head and muttering, “Let me guess, another random sports reference? Don’t these guys watch Gilmore Girls?”). And while the first mitts won’t emerge from hibernation until the calendar trickles a little more quickly toward spring, it’s not too soon at CMEpalooza headquarters for us to throw out our first curveball of the year.

Now in truth, Derek and I saw no need to do anything differently with CMEpalooza Spring – I mean, why mess with a good thing? – but our crack team of interns begged and pleaded with us for many months to try something new. If the two of us have learned nothing after a combined 29 years of marriage, it’s how to put the seat down how to listen. So we caved.

Here is how we used to devise our spring agenda:

About this time of year, we would open up a call for abstracts on our website. People would spend many hours talking to colleagues to come up with something that would be eye-catching and worthy of a CMEpalooza session. We’d then open up the abstracts to peer voting, which would put about 7 or 8 sessions on the agenda.

Unfortunately, simply due to the numbers game, there were far more winners than losers, which we know is discouraging and leads people to think they’ve wasted their time coming up with an idea and coaxing their colleagues to join them on the prospective session. We saw interest in coming up with unique ideas for sessions dwindling, which isn’t a good thing. We loved the peer voting process and were determined to find a way to keep it, but we decided to tinker with the submission process.

So here is our new and improved approach in devising our spring agenda:

We have come up with 6 session categories — Accreditation, Industry, Off-the-Wall/Potpourri, Outcomes, Educational Design, and Case-Based Formats — and are in the process of working with some of our most loyal fans to come up with ideas for sessions in each of those categories.

Our hope is that by early February we’ll be able to present to you a slate of options to vote on in each category. These will only be titles and descriptions of the focus of the sessions themselves – there will be no pre-determined faculty, so no one will waste time recruiting folks for sessions that may hit the scrap heap.

The voting process will work in a similar fashion to previous years, except that you will only be able to vote for 1 session in each category. The winning session in each category gets added to the agenda, and the process of recruiting faculty then begins (our interns will be busy).

This approach, we hope, has the added bonus of giving us a more balanced agenda with a greater variety of topics. While there is nothing necessarily wrong about having, say, four sessions focused on Outcomes, we are going to be moving away from that possibility. We understand if you will shed some tears, but we promise that, in the end, we’ll have a better, brighter program for everyone.

Now let’s say you have been sitting on an idea for a CMEpalooza session for months, just waiting for your chance to unleash it on the world. There is a part of us that would be worried for your sanity – I mean, come on, we know our limits here — but another part is thinking, “Great! We won’t let your idea go to waste!” Simply come up with a title and a brief yet pithy description of your proposed session, fire off an email with all that information to either myself or Derek, and we’ll include your idea in the voting process. We’ll even present it anonymously in case you are embarrassed of public ridicule.

The deadline for sending something to us is Friday, February 3. Don’t worry – we’ll send some reminders out.


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