Someone Needs a Present

Today is Derek’s birthday (it’s impolite to ask how old he is), and he told me that there are only two things he wants:

  1. This game-worn Kenny Thomas Philadelphia 76ers jersey from the landmark 2002-03 season
  2. Your submission of a CMEpalooza abstract for our Spring event

Yes indeed, there are only two more days for you to brainstorm a super creative idea for consideration as a CMEpalooza Spring session. You can get all the information you need here about what we’re looking for and how to go about submitting your idea. Perhaps if your session is extra, extra special, you’ll even be in the running for a Paloozie when we have our next awards ceremony in 2029 (mark your calendars now).

Derek already suffered a crushing birthday disappointment this morning when he found out his childhood crush (Vickie from Small Wonder) wasn’t an actual girl. Don’t make things worse for him.

Your Roving Reporter: Alliance Wrapup

As the plane touched down in Philadelphia on Saturday evening, I did one last self-check (Am I feeling OK? Anything out of the ordinary? How worried should I be about the guy sitting across from me who was sniffling the entire flight?) and breathed a sigh of relief. I made it.

Honestly, I think that’s about the best thing that many of us who were onsite at the Alliance conference can say. We made it.

Yes, there was good education and networking and all of the stuff that usually happens at the Alliance, but for the vast majority of us who congregated in Denver (well, technically Aurora), this was the first large-ish gathering of people we had been a part of in nearly two years. Much like the NFL preseason, the primary goal was simply to get through the event unscathed. Or more specifically, COVID free.

I had some interesting ethical discussions with a few people about what they would do, thousands of miles from home, if they tested positive for COVID while at the Alliance. Quarantine for 5 days? Until you are feeling better? Not at all? We all know what the CDC says, but things aren’t always so black and white in real life. I am sure there were least a small number of people at the Alliance who were faced with this difficult dilemma (the few people I know who tested positive during the conference were local). I don’t envy the decision they had to make.

Sitting back in my office this morning, I’m not sure whether those of us who decided to push forward with our attendance despite the octopus-like reach of Omicron were brave or stupid. I am glad I went, and I got a lot of positive energy from being able to finally re-engage with the CME community, but it was definitely a strange environment. Some people were more skittish in a crowd of colleagues than others, and I can’t blame them. As with everything these days, it’s a matter of risk tolerance.

So kudos to the attendees for bravely masking up and immersing in a live educational event. And kudos too to those of you who stayed home, deciding the risk wasn’t worth it. Who was right and who was wrong? There are arguments for both sides – you know them as well as I do.

However, there was definitely one perk of Alliance’s decision to push forward with the in-person conference — the debut of the CMEpalooza Roving Reporter! We have one more episode of questions and answers to share today before shutting things down for the time being. I’ll pass the fedora to Derek the next time around.

Here were our questions:

  1. What has the COVID pandemic forced your organization to get better at?
  2. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

Caitlyn Keenan
Accreditation Manager
Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine

What has the COVID pandemic forced your organization to get better at?

Digitizing – getting away from paper everything. We do a lot of joint providership, and we used to have all paper certifications, paper disclosure forms, paper certification forms, and just lots of paper everywhere. Now, we’re all digital. Our staff and our members can do everything online now.

Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

Cookie Monster

 

Rebecca Stachurski
Senior Health Education Coordinator
University of Kentucky

What has the COVID pandemic forced your organization to get better at?

I was brought on in the middle of the pandemic so this is a tough one. But one of the things my organization does really well is communicate with each other. We have managed to maintain a really great rapport, which isn’t necessarily CME related, but it’s something that stands out to me.

Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

Cookie Monster (note from Scott: I sense a pattern)

Valerie Bakies Lile, CAE, FACOOG
Executive Director
American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians & Gynecologists

What has the COVID pandemic forced your organization to get better at?

There is a rumor that it’s making smoked bourbon, but it’s really digital education. That was a priority of our organizational strategic plan that we drafted in January 2020. At the time, we thought it would be a 3-year action item. And then March 2020 happened and we fast tracked it so it became a 17-day action item in time for our annual conference. Since then, we’ve tried multiple formats and multiple platforms, and I think we all feel that we have accomplished what we set out to do.

Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

I want to say Oscar the Grouch, but I also like the Swedish Chef (Note from Scott: Yes, I know the Swedish Chef is not Sesame Street, but these are all technically Muppets so let’s not judge too harshly)

 

Your Roving Reporter: Alliance Day 2

“So what does it feel like to be there?”

This is a question that I’ve gotten texted to me from a lot of people who usually attend the Alliance conference but, for obvious reasons, opted out this year.

So here’s the short answer: It’s weird. It’s awkward. But it’s also a relief.

Weird because this is the first conference of any size that any of us have been to in the last 2 years. Awkward to look around at a room full of masked attendees – I still have not gotten used to this. A relief because most of us who came out to Denver are thankful that we stuck with our decision to attend the Alliance conference despite the scales tipping so far into the “CANCEL!!” bucket in the last 2 weeks.

There is some sense of normalcy about being here. I was told that there were only 5 presentations that had to be scrapped due to presenter cancellations. I expected the number to be much higher. There has been some duct tape put on some proposed panels to fill in holes, but there is a still a nice combination of education being offered at every time slot.

Personally, being here has been a much-needed professional pick-me-up. I always feel creatively energized going to live educational events such as the Alliance, and I have already come up with a handful of good ideas for the future just by sitting around professional colleagues.

Now for our Roving Reporter interviews. Here are today’s two questions:

  1. How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?
  2. What new hobby you have either picked up or honed in the last 2 years?

Ginny Jacobs
Director, Strategy and Performance
AXDEV Group Inc.

How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?

There definitely needs to be some concern because it’s a model that we’ve all been accustomed to, but I think there is a real opportunity to re-think what has worked in the past. As they say, you should never let a good crisis go to waste.

What new hobby you have either picked up or honed in the last 2 years?

I wish I could tell you I learned to cook, but this is what it looks like when I tried (shows band aid on thumb). But I’m still working on it. Maybe after another year of the pandemic.

Brian Thompson, MBA, FACEHP
Director of Education
American Academy of Physical Medical & Rehabilitation

How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?

In the long-term, no one should be scared, but in the short term, we have to embrace the change.

What new hobby you have either picked up or honed in the last 2 years?

Fire building. We’ve been doing a lot of camping.

Emily Zyborowicz
Manager, Education & Research Strategy
PRIME Education

How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?

I have been thinking about this question a lot. But overall, I don’t think we need to be too concerned because we are all very adaptable. We all learn, adapt, and continue to improve. We have to be resilient.

What new hobby you have either picked up or honed in the last 2 years?

I moved recently, so I haven’t had time for a lot of new hobbies. Maybe reading more for pleasure?

Marc Crawford
CEO
Array

How concerned should the CME community be about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on large, in-person conferences?

Honestly, looking at what’s going on with Omicron and how we’re slowly learning to live with COVID, I am not terribly worried about the long-term impact. I’m a strong believer in people wanting to come together. This conference has shown me the excitement that comes from human interaction. Whether or not this happens immediately or it takes a series of years, I truly believe that large, in-person conferences will be back. Virtual has its place, but the networking, the interactions, and the ideas come up when you are sitting down with people only occur when you are face-to-face.

What new hobby you have either picked up or honed in the last 2 years?

During COVID, I bought a VR Oculus headset “for my kids.” Daddy used the Oculus headset to play games and I’m now hooked on VR. Don’t tell anyone, but I brought the VR headset with me and I’m playing games between sessions. (Note from Scott: Whoops)