Whetting Your Appetite for CMEpalooza Fall

We’re closing in on the start of CMEpalooza Fall (Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. ET – that’s tomorrow people!), so to help whet your appetite, here are a few session-specific items for you to read through as you prepare to watch:

Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME — Our kickoff session sponsored by Global Academy for Medical Education will focus on two complex case studies, one to be discussed by our team of medical education and communications company (MECC) professionals and the other by our team of academic/hospital-based professionals. As promised, we’re giving you a chance to read through the cases in advance and perhaps think about how you would address the issues that they raise. Case 1 can be accessed by clicking here. Case 2 can be accessed by clicking here.

Grant Review Mythbusters — Two examples of grantor “myths” that will be addressed in our 11 a.m. ET session sponsored by Forefront Collaborative:

Myth 1: A provider’s grant will get more attention as an unsolicited submission rather than a response to a RFP since an RFP generates so many responses.

Myth 2: A high percentage of submitted grants are eliminated through a screening or other vetting process and never make it to committee.

Chatting With Graham McMahon — Our 1 p.m. “Dessert Session” with ACCME President and CEO Graham McMahon sponsored by Prova Education will tackle a whole host of questions that were submitted by the CMEpalooza community. Among them:

Do you think that the new accreditation criteria will result in fewer providers achieving accreditation with commendation? What are your plans to provide learning resources for providers who may think that achieving accreditation with commendation as too difficult to attempt in the future?

When people say that CME is thinly disguised promotional education, or that there is little evidence that CME actually changes behavior, what are your ‘floor ’em’ responses?

The CME Advice Columnists – We’re apparently a community that needs a lot of expert advice. Who knew? Here is an example of one of the “letters” that our panel will be addressing tomorrow during our 2 p.m. ET session sponsored by Integrity CE:

Dear CMEpalooza Advice Columnists,

A high school friend of mine recently helped me get a job at the small hospital she works at in the suburbs. One of my responsibilities is to serve as our CME Coordinator. The only problem is that I know nothing about CME (my friend told me before I took the job that I’d “figure it out”), and I’m too embarrassed to ask any of the doctors here for help or advice.

How can I learn what I need to know without anyone finding out about it?


A Beginner’s Beginner

Is your appetite whet yet? Would you even know if it was? What does that phrase even mean anyway?

Regardless, these are just a few tidbits related to a few of our CMEpalooza Fall sessions. If you need a last-minute check of the Agenda to decide when you might want to confirm a “meeting” or two, please do take a look (I recommend blocking off the whole day, but I know that that might not be realistic for everyone).

It’s CMEpalooza Week!

Not that I really think we need to remind you again, but it is indeed CMEpalooza Week (officially recognized as such in 4 U.S. states and 2 territories). We’ve got a bunch of stuff coming your way here in the 48 hours before we officially kick things off, so consider this as your Monday morning primer. Here is what to expect:

  • Obviously and most importantly, the live, free broadcast of CMEpalooza Fall will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. You can watch all of the sessions on our Live page. If you want to refresh your memory regarding our sessions, just go to our Fall Agenda page. We hope that you have blocked off your calendar with “meetings” or are working on a “family emergency” for Wednesday. You’ll thank us later.
  • We’ll be posting the two case studies that will be discussed in our 10 a.m. ET kickoff session, Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME (sponsored by Global Academy for Medical Education) on Tuesday morning so you can read through and think about them in advance. You may even get one of the “letters” that will be addressed by our Dear Abby crew of CME Advice Columnists at 2 p.m. ET if you are nice.
  • Derek will tell you on Tuesday all that you need to know about watching the live broadcast. It’s really, really easy. He’ll also explain all the ways in which you can ask questions during every session. We hope that you’ll take the opportunity to (anonymously) participate – our best sessions are the ones where we get people to chime in.
  • Our social media feeds will be busy with last-minute items, including reminders to visit our Sponsor page to check out all of those brilliant organizations who have aligned themselves with CMEpalooza, as well as some snarky memes that we find while trolling the Interwebs.
  • One last thing: For those of you who are wondering, no, it’s not a coincidence that CMEpalooza Fall coincides with the opening tip of the Philadelphia 76ers season. Derek has already told me not to bother him until at least mid-January once the season begins. Gladly, my friend, gladly. (note from Derek: “TRUST THE PROCESS!”)

Have a good week everyone, and we’ll “see” you all soon!

CMEpalooza Bingo!! prize drawing winners

We held our prize drawing for CMEpalooza Bingo!! this morning. It was quite the event – you may have seen it on your local news channel. We hired the legendary Wink Martindale to be our Master of Ceremonies and brought in one of those giant wire barrels to spin around with all of our winning entries.

It was drizzling outside a bit, but I still estimate we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 attendees for the event – certainly way way more than any other promotional drawing that has ever been held in the United States in the last 100 years. I won’t believe any photos you may have that prove otherwise.

Anyway, here are our winners:

GRAND PRIZE ($100 Amazon gift card)

  • Ellen F. Simes, Simes Consulting

SECOND PRIZES ($50 Amazon gift cards)

  • Karin Pearson, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Amanda Glazar, Kynectiv
  • Sara Brykalski, ACHL
  • Lindsey Schneider, Minnesota Medical Association

THIRD PRIZES ($25 Amazon gift cards)

  • Sandy Mardant, A.D.A.M.
  • Betty Riggs, PharmApprise Consulting
  • Bonnie J. Bixler, Penn State College of Medicine
  • Melissa Hicks, Patient Advocate
  • Danielle DuFour, Bellin Health Systems, Inc.
  • Joanne Wise, University at Albany School of Public Health
  • Kristi J. English, MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Stacy A. Snyder, Penn State College of Medicine

For anyone who may be interested in all of the answers to our game board, you can find them by clicking on this link. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Last Call for CMEpalooza Bingo!!

Quick reminder that the entry window for CMEpalooza Bingo!! closes tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:45 p.m. Here is a link to the various forms you will need to play. It’s 5 minutes (at most) and it’s free money – what more do you want?

Here is what others have said about CMEpalooza Bingo!! so far this year:

“It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It’s probably pretty fun with your clothes off too, but I didn’t try that since I’m at work and all. Maybe next year.”

“I had no idea of all of the interesting work the CMEpalooza Fall sponsors are doing. They truly are the best of the best.”

“We turned this into a huge family gathering. Me, my husband, my 3 kids, my mother-in-law, my aunt Sally, and our pet Felix cat all sat down and played CMEpalooza Bingo!! for hours. We couldn’t get enough. Thanks Scott and Derek!”

See, it’s not just me who wants you to play CMEpalooza Bingo!! The general public is basically begging you to let your hair down and have some fun. SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!

CMEpalooza Bingo!! It’s Back (with ’80s Themed Trivia!)

Derek loves it when I give away our hard-earned money (or is it hardly earned money? I get confused sometimes).

But our CMEpalooza sponsor events are always a personal highlight. Yes, it’s nice to be the giver of good news to our winners, and it’s even kinda fun to put together the contest materials. But I also appreciate being forced to take time away from the day-to-day to see the varied kind of work that our sponsors are doing and to get my creative juices flowing.

Let’s face it – we all get stuck in a professional rut from time to time, churning out the same ideas over and over. Consider our Fall sponsor event your chance to take some time to do some professional research and maybe even win some money at the same time.

Starting today, CMEpalooza Bingo!! is back for the second consecutive year. We’re giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards (there are 13 total prizes — first prize is $100 with other prizes of $50 and $25). To win, you simply need to do some very simple research about a handful of our CMEpalooza Fall sponsors.

The rules are simple.

  • There are a few documents you’ll need to download and/or print out — The bingo card, the question sheet, and the answer form. Don’t worry – we’ve compiled these into one document that you can print out or download. You can get everything you need by clicking on this link. If you want the CMEpalooza Bingo!! Answer Form as a Word document you can write on, we’ve got that right here for you.
  • On the bingo card, you’ll see that each CMEpalooza Fall sponsor has been assigned a specific slot (there are a few slots with ’80 Trivia on there to fill out the card – you’ll have to excuse my odd tastes in some cases). Each slot has coordinates listed in the upper left-hand corner. This is important to note as you are filling out the Answer Form.
  • To get the answer to the questions, you’ll probably need to visit some of our sponsor websites. You can find direct links to all of them on the CMEpalooza Fall sponsor page.
  • We’re not cruel, so we won’t make you complete the entire card. Simply make one Bingo by answering 5 questions that complete either a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line (just like, you know, as in a Bingo game). Feel free to visit any additional sponsor sites if you really want to, but it’s not mandatory.
  • Fill out the Answer Form and return it to me via email (scott@medcasewriter.com) by our deadline of Wednesday, October 11 at 3:45 p.m. Why 3:45 p.m.? I have no idea. Roll with me people.

We had a really good response to CMEpalooza Bingo!! last fall, but let’s face it, the CME community ain’t that big. If you successfully complete and submit a finished game card to me, your chances of winning are pretty good.

The answers to all of these questions can be found very easily on every one of the Sponsors sites. I didn’t come up with questions that will require a deep search – pretty much everything is 1 click away, at most. It takes, in all honesty, 5 minutes to complete a game board.

So get cracking.

A Letter to Our Fans

Dear CMEpalooza Groupie,

Camp is great. I like my new friends. The food stinks. We threw our counselor in the pool today. I hit the bulls-eye in archery.

And now that you are paying attention, it’s your turn to write a letter to our CME Advice Columnists so that they can help during our CMEpalooza Fall session.

What has you corporately confused, confounded, or cantankerous?

Do you often find yourself professionally perplexed, perturbed, or petulant?

Perhaps you simply want to complement my awesome, amazing, and astounding use of alliteration this morning?

It’s all fair game (well, most of it is). Just submit your letter in the form below and wait until Wednesday, October 18 to get the answers from our expert panel. Deadline to send in your letter – no stamp needed! – is this Friday (September 29).

Looking for CME Advice? Step Right Up

There are days — too many days — when we all come to work and have to bite our tongues or roll our eyes or slam our door in frustration when something happens that just MAKES US WANT TO EXPLODE.

Maybe it’s that co-worker who calls out “sick” for the 10th time this month, and every one of those days just happens to include a warm, sunny afternoon (and miraculously, she’s always better by the next morning). Maybe it’s that educational partner who refuses to answer email after email, forcing timelines to shift into summer, then fall, then winter. Maybe it’s that colleague who insists on writing a 25-page outcomes report for that 15-minute educational activity, squeezing out every last drop of picayune data because “it’s what funders expect.”

Sure, you could schedule time with a psychiatrist every week to talk through these issues, drop a couple thousand dollars each year, and perhaps get some clarity into how to deal with your professional nemesis. But in CMEpalooza land, as always, we have a FREE solution for you.

It’s our brand-new CMEpalooza Fall session – “The CME Advice Columnists.” What we’ve done is gather some of the smartest and most resilient people in our field, each representing a different specialty of the CME world — accreditation, outcomes, educational design, and grant development/partnerships — on an all-star panel to chew on that issue that is just really, really eating at you right now.

We all remember the dynamic duo of Dear Abby and Ann Landers. This is sorta kinda the same thing. You write us a short letter describing your issue, the mental gymnastics you are going through each day, and hopefully wrap things up with a question or two you’d like answered. Our panel then talks through their advice during our CMEpalooza Fall session.

Here is an example of a letter they might consider (as you’ll see, this clearly has no identifying elements that tie to any specific individual):

Dear CME Advice Columnists,

I have done a lot of work on this big event for a number of years in conjunction with another semi-prominent member of the CME community. Hmm, how do I put this gently? The dude is weird. He has this obsession with ’80s music, proudly and loudly tells everyone he meets that he’s “such an introvert,” and punctuates every conversation and email with the phrase, “Trust the Process.”

It’s not that this guy doesn’t have his redeeming qualities, but it’s becoming increasingly painful to have to suffer through his daily missives that clog my inbox. How do I politely tell him that he needs to keep our interactions more professional and focused on, you know, actual work?


Trust the Results 

Of course, these letters can be (and probably should be) anonymous. If you want to fudge some of the facts, that’s totally fine as well. But we do truly hope our panel can be helpful in solving some of the common problems that plague CME professionals.

Now here comes the hard part – this session won’t be a success without your help (well, unless you all want to hear about all of Derek and my issues). We’re asking our CMEpalooza friends — that’s you– to write letters to our advice columnists regarding whatever professional issue you are currently struggling with. Note that we specified professional issues. Your problems with your meddling mother-in-law are for a different forum.

Our submission form is below – again, since this is anonymous, I don’t want anyone to feel that you need to list your name or even send me an email. Really, we don’t care who the letters come from, as long as they focus on real-world issues that would be interesting to discuss.

Our audience did pretty well submitting questions for our no-holds barred interview with Graham McMahon, so we’re hoping you can rally again this week. We’ll keep this open until the end of September (that’s Saturday the 30th).

Have fun with this everyone. And thanks in advance.

CMEpalooza Greatest Hits: The Early Years

Reader Alert: Here comes another ’80s nostalgia piece. We know how you love them.

But before I begin, a reminder from Derek – if you have a question (or multiple questions) you’d like ACCME president Graham McMahon to field during his CMEpalooza Fall no-holds barred interview, please go to this link and send something in:


Deadline is tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 12).

And now to rip another page from my childhood…

Anyone over the age of, say, 30, probably remembers these things we used to call “albums.” They were on “records” and then on “tapes” and then finally, “CDs.” Why did I just put everything in quotes? I have no idea.

But anyway, these albums were a compilation of a singer or band’s most recent creations. Records would have an A and B side, with perhaps 5 or 6 songs on each side. If you had an album on cassette, it would take 45 minutes to fast forward through that 8-minute love ballad so that you could get to that catchy tune you just heard on the radio 10 minutes ago but JUST COULDN’T WAIT to hear again. The advent of CDs meant that you would hear the music with crystal clear audio for at least 1 week until your college roommate scratched the CD while using it as a coaster, therefore causing it to skip at the 1:25 mark of your favorite Yes tune (that would be Roundabout [note from Derek: this may be the first thing we have ever agreed on]).

Now where was I?

Oh right, albums. So anyway, there was this crazy phenomenon in the 80s called the “Greatest Hits” album (uh, oh, there are those quotes again). What a singer or band would do is, with basically zero work required, select a dozen or more of their most popular songs and compile them on a Greatest Hits album that their fans would gobble up by the millions. The best part is that you didn’t even have to have greatest hits (plural) to put out a Greatest Hits album – only one hit (singular) was enough!

Don’t believe me? Flock of Seagulls has a Greatest Hits album that has 36 songs! 36 fricking songs! Flock of Seagulls! Still love the hairdos boys.

Want more? Here is the Greatest Hits album from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Before you Frankie-o-philes start to complain, I have one word for you – RELAX (rimshot).

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with the general idea of Greatest Hits albums. They were a great way to accumulate the best songs from those singers or bands you sorta kinda liked but not enough to buy all their albums. I still have plenty of Greatest Hits albums in my CD collection.

It is in that spirit of generosity that I am writing this today. No, Derek and I are not going to replacing next month’s CMEpalooza Fall with a Greatest Hits edition where we simply replay the best sessions of the past – we’re lazy, but not that lazy.

But we do recognize that our current Archives are getting rather beefy and for people looking for a really useful session, it can be hard to figure out which sessions are worth the time. So as a public service, here are Derek and my selections for CMEpalooza Greatest Hits: The Early Years, along with some very brief commentary:

Scott’s “Greatest Hits”

Derek’s “Greatest Hits”

  • CME Pecha Kucha (2015) – I love all the Pecha Kuchas/Puntua Lortus, but the first one holds a special place in my heart because I had no idea if it would actually work, everyone did a great job, and Audrie Turnow literally made my jaw drop with how fantastic her presentation was. That doesn’t happen very often.
  • The Future of CME: What Will CME/CPD Look Like in 5-10 Years? (2014) – The very first session of the first “real” CMEpalooza and we somehow managed to get this amazing panel to participate and chat about the future of CME. This is when I started to think we might be on to something…
  • CME Mythbusters (2016) – Brian McGowan is always one of my favorite presenters, but I thought he really took things to the next level with this CME version of MythBusters. Anytime there’s an explosion involved in a presentation, it’s going to make my Greatest Hits.
  • Why Did My Grant Request Get Rejected? (2015) – Our grantor sessions are always popular, but I picked this one mostly for the title. No B.S. and right to the point.
  • Tech Tools We Can’t Live Without (2014) – Maybe the session I received the most comments about, due mostly to the lead-off presentation from Tom Zosh and his iPhone simulation (no offense to the other panelists. You guys were great, too.) A cool screenshare presentation plus some great tips, too!

“The Dog Ate My Laptop?” You Can Do Better

We all have a few unique skills that don’t show up on a resume but are nonetheless vital to everyday success on a personal and professional level.

Perhaps you know someone who can whip up a gourmet 5-course meal from a package of Ramen noodles, leftover chicken pot pie, and a limp celery stick.

Perhaps you have the ability to drive with your knees going 85 mph on the highway while texting your co-worker about a vital project (I won’t tell the cops).

Derek can whistle “Jimmy Crack Corn” in the key of F minor like a pro. Next time you see him, ask for a rendition.

Me? I’m an excellent liar.

While that may be hardly something you’d think someone would be proud of, I am. It’s not a skill that I necessarily tried to develop, but rather something that evolved over time. There are some secrets to being a skilled liar that I’ll reveal in a moment, though it’s important to recognize that I use my powers only for good (don’t worry, I won’t try to swindle your elderly parents out of their retirement savings). I’m kind of like a superhero that way — a really, really lame superhero.

So why am I telling you this?

Every year, we receive emails from a few people that go something like this:

“I’m so sad that I can’t watch the live CMEpalooza broadcasts this year, but my boss just put an all-day staff training on the calendar that day. I’ll try to catch the archives for sure.”

Or this:

“Can you believe that our hospital won’t give us time for professional development the whole month of October? Hopefully when November rolls around, I’ll be able to check out the archives.”

Now look, we appreciate everyone who checks into our archives, especially after Derek recently spent hours and hours (so he claimed) sprucing them up to make them more convenient for our audience. Our rigorous team of data analytic interns tell us each year that we get approximately the same number of people watching an archived session as the live version.

But in truth, we all know how the world goes. Life gets busy, priorities move up the list, and you simply forget about that important thing you wanted to do (ie, watch our archived sessions). Plus, you can’t ask questions in real-life on the archives like you can with our live broadcasts. And really, don’t you want a day to vegetate on the couch taking in a full-day of top-notch education without a care in the world? Maybe you have one of those fancy doo-hickeys that lets you project a YouTube feed (which is essentially what our broadcasts are) onto your 65-inch wall mounted TV – if you haven’t seen Derek in HD recently, you are really missing out.

So as a public service, I’ll let you in on some of basics of being a skilled liar that will get you out of that pesky staff training on Wednesday, Oct. 18:

1. Include just enough specifics to make the lie believable — This is really the key to a good lie. Let’s say someone asks me this morning, “What are the odds that the Philadelphia 76ers win the NBA championship this year?” If I say, “Probably around 100-1” that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But if I say, “82-1,” that is much more believable both because it is specific and it is not a round number (ie, one that ends with a zero). It doesn’t matter if that is actually true or not, because at the end of the day, who really cares? That is what makes it an effective, superhero lie that hurts no one.On the flip side, don’t say, “At Circus Circus in Las Vegas, they are listed at 90-1, while at Westgate Jamaica, they are listed at 125-1.” That’s just weird and brands you as some sort of savant no one will want to sit next to at lunch.

Examples of how to use this to craft your CMEpalooza excuse

  • “My son came down with a 102.3 degree fever last night and I need to stay home with him today. I’ll check email though.”
  • “We finally saved enough money to buy a new king-sized bed and the delivery is coming between 9-3. They told me if I’m not here for the delivery, I’ll have to wait another month. I’ll check email though.
  • “It’s my 12-year wedding anniversary and my wife said she planned something special for the morning. She’d be really mad if I had to work that day. I’ll check email as much as I can.”

2. Don’t create a lie with long-standing repercussions — For instance, you don’t want to claim that you just received a call from your Hollywood-bound stylist that he just got a cancellation for a 10:20 a.m. appointment and you’ve been waiting for months to get that “new look” all the stars are sporting. That’s kinda going to easily fall apart the next day.

3. Don’t feel guilty — Remember, you are lying for a very, very good cause. Lies should be saved for these kinds of important things. To this day, my wife still thinks I bailed on my son’s super-duper cute preschool concert/screamfest because I was invited to speak at a “professional event.” I’ve seen the video – I missed nothing.

There are some other subtle nuances I could add in here, but this is just a starter course. Being a lying superhero takes practice and persistence, just like the development of any other important skill. Starting your training with CMEpalooza Fall is the perfect time. And that’s the truth.

Something New for Our Sponsors

You may have noticed (or not, in which case you should look now) that the CMEpalooza Sponsor page is pretty packed these days. For the first time in the history of CMEpalooza, we’re officially sold out of both our Gold and Silver level sponsorships for CMEpalooza Fall, and we’re still more than 2 months from our live broadcast date.

Before I continue along to some of the new stuff, I wanted to recognize all of those wise organizations who have currently chosen to align themselves with our event as Official CMEpalooza Sponsors:

  • Gold Sponsors — Genentech and Prova Education
  • Silver Sponsors — ASiM, Forefront Collaborative, Global Academy for Medical Education, Integrity CE, Practicing Clinicians Exchange
  • Bronze Sponsors — Academy for Continued Healthcare Learning, Clinical Care Options, CMEology, HighMarksCE, Impact Education, Kynectiv, Primary Care Network, PVI, RMEI, Thistle Editorial

In his usual meandering post that took 1,000 words to get to the point (Hey, I was on vacation. I had time. -DW), Derek wrote about the challenges of constantly needing to be creative to come up with new ideas for our Spring and Fall broadcasts. It’s the same story with our sponsorship opportunities – it’s easy to just trot out the same things every year, but we try to come up with some new ideas when and where we can.

In that vein, today we are trotting out two new sponsorship opportunities for CMEpalooza Fall, both of which are included within our updated Sponsorship Prospectus:

  • #CMEpalooza Mega-Blog — On 1 specific date prior to CMEpalooza Fall, we’ll open up our blog to members of the CME community, who will all be asked to write a short (250-300 words) essay on a specific topic related to CME. Maybe it’s “The Day I Learned That CME Makes a Difference” or “Why We Love Our CME Community” – we’re not sure and we can work with you on an interested sponsor.
  • #CMEpalooza Chat — A few years back, there used to be a periodic moderated CME chat on Twitter that was pretty popular and was a good way to get people talking about important issues in our industry. This would be a Sponsored reincarnation of that chat, where Derek and I (and/or another invited moderator) would coordinate a Twitter discussion on specific topics during 4, 30-minute blocks on a specific date prior to CMEpalooza Fall. Again, we could work with the sponsor on the specific topics for each discussion block.

There are other opportunities that remain available as well — we take an unlimited number of Bronze sponsors, for instance. The CMEpalooza Q&A Line is still available for the Fall as well. I’m not even going to mention poor CMEpalooza Spotlight anymore.

So take a look and let us know if you are interested. Things are moving fast these days so probably best not to wait too long.

On a totally unrelated note, a quick personal plug: I know how much our audience likes FREE things, so if you are at all interested in history (especially Philadelphia history), you can follow along with me as I give a FREE Twilight Tour of Independence National Historic Park this Friday (that’s Aug. 18) from 6-7 p.m. on Facebook Live. Just go to this link – the promo photo is terrible, but that’s out of my hands: www.facebook.com/FINHP. You can ask questions and everything, right along with the tourists on the actual walking tour itself.