Adapting to the COVID-19 Whirlwind

Since Derek and I both work remotely on a regular basis, we asked our Spring intern Katie to share her experiences from the last week to get a sense of how our CME world is adapting to changing circumstances. We hope you all stay safe.

About a month ago, the first Hospital Incident Command System email hit my work inbox. This is the system that provides us with emergency updates at Memorial Sloan Kettering. It’s been our main system-wide communications conduit regarding precautions being taken for COVID-19. We’re now up to our 11th update. Every time I see a new update come through, I cringe a little, worried about what is coming next.

I commute to our New York City site from New Jersey. I’ve become more and more concerned about my personal risk of exposure every day. I’m fortunate to have the option to work from home most days, which I know a lot of my colleagues have not and perhaps still do not have. I don’t have to worry about the conversation a few cubicles over about someone’s fever and chills or the office-wide coughing and sneezing. I don’t have to touch the communal microwave, so I don’t have to really worry too much about the magic triumvirate of Lysol wipes, Lysol spray, and hand sanitizer.

As social distancing became emphasized in the last week, many live meetings have been canceled and travel bans put in place throughout our hospital system. It was with a heavy heart that we had to cancel our in-person CME meetings as well. It took a few days for everyone to catch up to the whirlwind of our “new normal” before we finally perked up and found someone willing to try a live, remote simulcast broadcast.

We are trying to keep part of our CME program going through simulcasting. While we’ve dabbled in this internally before, we’ve never done it with remote speakers. But as new challenges arise in the ever-changing world of CME, we’re adapting to the circumstances.

We are using Cisco as our broadcast platform, with the live stream available privately on YouTube. We are getting lots of questions thrown at us as new issues arise. We’re doing the best we can to collaboratively tackle any problems and seeing how things play out. The level of communication has been one of our greatest strengths, and the enthusiasm to creatively problem solve solutions during the current COVID-19 crisis has been enlightening. People are being extremely accommodating. We have invited several international experts to give virtual presentations to our clinicians during times that may not be the most convenient (ie, during the early morning or evening hours), and the response so far has always quickly been “No problem.”

Despite the chaos around us, we are doing our best to conduct business as normal (well, as normal as possible). Reliable, evidence-based education is always vitally important, and even with social distancing and travel bans, we can make it happen. This is the way our lives are going to be, at least for a little while, and it’s been heartwarming to see how flexible and kind the professional world has been. In times of crisis, we always tend to band together and find common solutions. My hope is that we all get through this together and forge a stronger bond for the betterment of our futures, both within CME and beyond.

3 thoughts on “Adapting to the COVID-19 Whirlwind

  1. Out of curiosity, how are you gathering attendance? We have asked for verbal roll calls w one person recording the names. Wondering if there is a different suggestion.

    1. From Katie: We require preregistration and a private link is sent to them and then a post-course evaluation. With YouTube and you could require them to make an account and comment in the chat, other options could be polling or have a pre/posttest question.

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