Choose Your Own (Annual Conference) Adventure

Well, another Alliance annual conference has come and gone, and all of us lucky enough to have attended have dispersed back to our respective homes with a collection of new knowledge in our heads and a touch of sunshine in our hearts (I only got to be in the sun for about 30 seconds as I walked from the cab to the hotel and back again a few days later, but what a glorious 30 seconds it was.)

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 their offices for the next few days, preoccupied with trying to dig themselves out from under the mountain of email that has accumulated during their extended absence, why not take the day to create your own personal annual conference?

We’ve recently updated the CMEpalooza Archive page to include all of the sessions from CMEpalooza Fall 2017 and there are now over 75 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 baking a cake in the shape of Alf for your son’s birthday party. Just take a couple hours.)

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 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.

6:30 a.m.: 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 go eat breakfast. Remind yourself of the promise you made to eat healthier this year. Proceed to skip over the fruit and yogurt and and devour five mini-muffins and a couple strips of bacon. Throw the bran muffin in the trash. What’s bran anyway?

9:00 a.m. Keynote: Chatting With Graham McMahon
Who better to kickoff our annual conference than the President and CEO of the ACCME?

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.

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: Two Scoops of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Please!
CME activities have become too vanilla. Redundancy abounds and it has become more and more difficult to differentiate one program from another. What does it take to be truly innovative? What are groups doing to separate themselves from the masses? This panel of commercial supporters will discuss what they look for in a grant proposal, the elements that make an activity stand out from the crowd, and provide examples of innovation in education that they have funded recently. Learn how to turn your vanilla program into two scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough!

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: Casual Conversations in CME
There are lots of interesting people working in continuing medical education, but when they are asked to speak or present, it’s often on a pre-assigned topic with a somewhat rigid agenda. Not this time. In this unique session, we’ve paired together 3 teams of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and given them 15 minutes of carte blanche time to decide what they want to talk to each other about. You might hear about their career paths, you might hear about something they are both professionally passionate about, or you might even hear about their mutual love of iguanas. You’ll have to tune in to find out.

Break: Click over to the Exhibit Hall and browse around the sponsors who have signed up for CMEpalooza Spring 2017, so far. 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 with them 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: A Dissection of Feasible Interpretive Tangents From a Discrete Comparative Assessment in CME (aka: What Does My Outcomes Data Mean?)
What if your super power was the ability to command unlimited attention? How would you use it? Maybe negotiate world peace between the leaders of all nations? Not bad. Me? Oh…I’d use it to explain all possible interpretations of pre/post data for a case vignette question. And, yes, I’d wear a super suit. Here’s some of what I’d address:

  1. Who does my data represent?
  2. What qualifies a case vignette?
  3. When do I need effect size?
  4. Where is reliability and validity a concern?
  5. Why are my post-activity scores low?
  6. How do you interpret p-value?

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 4 hours, everyone will either have left or passed out in the loo.



PSA: Judging from the fever, coughing, sore throat, and runny nose that started as soon as I returned home from the Alliance conference, I believe that I have contracted the plague*. If you are reading this and were within breathing distance of me at any point during the conference, you may want to consider contacting the CDC and request that they…I don’t know…quarantine you or put you out of your misery or something. Yet another example of why virtual conferences are so great — no one can breathe on you.

*My wife assures me it is not the plague and probably just a cold, but does she have a medical degree? Noooo!


5 thoughts on “Choose Your Own (Annual Conference) Adventure

  1. You guys are so funny and spot on! Thanks for starting my Thursday like this—-as I go through the 200 emails waiting! The conference was great but the catch up is heck!

    Elizabeth G. Franklin University of Mississippi medical Center Jackson MS


  2. Hilarious! Made my day. Here’s a thought to leave you as you ponder your potential exposure to and diagnosis of the plague…Computer modelling carried out by a research team from the universities of Oslo and Ferrara suggests the first outbreak may not have been down to the rats, but instead can be “largely ascribed to human fleas and body lice”.

    1. This summer my family took a vacation to Badlands National Park. While there, we visited a prairie dog village. A park ranger told us that the volume of prairie dogs was growing because one of their main predators, the mongoose, was being killed off by the plague, which prairie dogs carry in the fleas that live in their fur. Perhaps I am the mongoose of the CME world?

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