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?

Sincerely,

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:

https://cmepalooza.com/2017/09/06/call-for-questions-for-our-chatting-with-graham-mcmahon-session/

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.

The Big Reveal: 2017 CMEpalooza Fall Agenda

There is a reason you don’t hear much from Derek and I in the immediate months after each of our CMEpalooza broadcasts.

We’re mentally exhausted.

Let’s face it, there is only so much patience you have for your little annoying brother who keeps pestering you every day for weeks and weeks about some excruciating minutiae (and yes, in this parable, Derek is the annoying little brother, even though he is older than me). We both just need a break from each other, from the blog, and from thinking about CMEpalooza.

So we take our requisite tropical island vacations (wait, New Jersey’s Long Beach Island isn’t tropical?) to recharge our batteries and let the ideas start to simmer for the next event.

And boy did they bubble over this time.

Today, we proudly present the agenda for CMEpalooza Fall, packed chock full of 7 hours of interesting and unique sessions sure to pique your interest.

We’re got Graham McMahon from the ACCME joining us for the first time. We’ve got advice columnists, breakers of myths, a 3-act performance. We’ve even got a session about Donald Trump (yikes).

It’s seriously a lot of really interesting stuff, and I’m not just saying that because Derek and I have spent the last month lining up faculty and solidifying the session schedule. We’re going to be asking our devoted fans (that’s you) for some help, and soon, in providing material for us to maximize the impact of some of these sessions, but for now, feel free to admire the educational bounty that will be provided for you on Wednesday, October 18. And mark your calendars, if you haven’t already.

Click here to view the CMEpalooza Fall agenda 

Monday morning notes

A few quick hitters to start your week:

  • If you haven’t already set the time aside, you really should plan to watch our CMEpalooza Company Spotlight this Wednesday (April 12) at noon ET, where I’ll be joined by a team from Global Academy for Medical Education. I always think it’s interesting to hear how different organizations focus their CME missions differently and approach challenges/opportunities creatively. It’s only 30 minutes, and I can promise you’ll take something away from it.You can watch on the Spotlight on our LIVE page. There will be the usual opportunity to ask questions and offer comments if you’d like. Or you can just lurk silently.
  • Thanks to everyone who played CMEpalooza Pursuit. We had a record number of entries for one of our Sponsor events and crashed a number of our Sponsor websites with the thousands of visitors to their pages who were digging for correct answers. We even had one brown-noser who went above and beyond and completed the full question board. Alas, she was not a prize winner.Here is a list of our winners:
    • Grand Prize ($100 Amazon gift card) – Amanda Kaczerski
    • $50 Amazon gift cards – Audrie Tornow, Gabriella Cruze, Don Harting, Kristi English, Elizabeth McDonald
    • $25 Amazon gift cards – Edeline Mitton, Danielle DeFour, Bonnie Bixler, Andrea Thrasher, Joanne Wise, Karin Pearson
  • We’re a little more than a week away from our Spring extravaganza. If you haven’t already called out sick so that you can watch every session from your couch in your jammies, probably a good idea to start working on your cough soon.

Last Chance to Play CMEpalooza Pursuit – Entries Due Today

Today is the deadline for entries into CMEpalooza Pursuit – forms must be sent to me before midnight ET. Don’t forget that we’re giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards and really only asking for 5-10 minutes of your time. You never know, you might learn something along the way too.

Here is a reminder of how to play:

Here are the rules of CMEpalooza Pursuit:

1. Call up the Sponsor page on the CMEpalooza website. You’ll need this for reference purposes to access our Sponsors’ websites.

2. Download the CMEpalooza Pursuit question form by clicking on this link.

You’ll see that questions are divided into categories that will be familiar to anyone who has ever played Trivial Pursuit – Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, and Sports & Leisure. There are three questions within each category, the answers to which can all be found on the sponsoring company website.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to answer every question – just one per category. If you want to be the teacher’s pet, of course, you can answer every question, though you get no formal extra credit, just that all over warm feeling for a job well done.

3. Download the CMEpalooza Pursuit answer form by clicking on this link. This is where you will enter in your answers – remember, only one answer is required per category. I promise that none of the questions are tricky or difficult. If it takes you more than 10 minutes to complete the entire challenge, you are doing something wrong.

4. Email me your completed answer form. It’s scott@medcasewriter.com. All completed forms will be entered into our drawing. One entry per person. Perhaps you make this a company-wide challenge and have your entire team enter individually. Perhaps you keep this a secret so that your chances of winning improve. Whatever. Just make sure that your entry is submitted by the deadline of midnight ET on Thursday, April 6.

Trying Something New

We’re all about innovation at CMEpalooza – heck, Derek broke every rule of common sense and ate his bowl of Lucky Charms at his desk this morning with a spork (he claims, “You need to try it, dude” but I remain skeptical).

Hopefully we have a few more interesting innovations for the CME community in the next few weeks. We’re rolling out one of them this morning.

Our friends at PlatformQ approached us a few weeks ago and asked us if we were interested in using their online “Q Board” during one of one Spring sessions. Never one to shy away from people offering him something for free, Derek quickly answered, “Oh my God, yes, yes. Thank you so much, thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you…. er, wait, what’s a QBoard?”

Being the more grounded and logical part of our duo, I was a little more circumspect, but nonetheless after taking the platform for a brief test drive, I thought it would be worth a try this Spring.

And so we’re making a special CMEpalooza QBoard available in preparation for our 2 p.m. ET Spring session entitled, “What is Data Visualization and How Can I Apply It?”

It’s a very simple platform. Here is how it works:

  1. Take a look at the description for the “Data Viz” session on our Spring agenda page and think about anything specific you’d like to hear or ask about during the session
  2. Click on this link to open the QBoard
  3. Either type in a new question using the “Ask” button or up-vote a current question to make it a higher priority for our panel

That’s really about it. Our crack interns have pre-populated the QBoard with a few questions of their own, but feel free to contribute others. Our panel has promised to gear their discussion as much as possible to the questions that come in.

 

 

Roll Out the Reddish Carpet on April 12

One of the (many) perks of being a higher tier CMEpalooza sponsor is the special add-ons we offer throughout the year. This year, we decided to up the ante by throwing all of our Silver and Gold sponsors into a pile to select the winner of a complimentary CMEpalooza Company Spotlight this Spring (there will be another drawing before the Fall meeting). The winner, as we announced a few weeks ago, was Global Academy for Medical Education.

After a flurry of intense meetings and negotiations, we settled on noon ET on Wednesday, April 12 for the live broadcast.

So what exactly will be happening during this 30-minute pre-Palooza session?

Certainly, you’ll learn a little about Global Academy for Medical Education, but these Spotlight sessions are primarily designed to showcase how different organizations approach challenges in CME in unique ways that are applicable throughout our industry. This is not going to be mindless drivel where we go through the catalog of activities available on the Global Academy for Medical Education website – that would serve no one’s interests.

Instead, during this Company Spotlight you’ll learn about how to build learner and faculty loyalty to your education, when and why to build external partnerships to strengthen your education, and how to identify and leverage what is unique about your organization to benefit your overall educational program.

As with all of our regular CMEpalooza sessions, there will be ample opportunities to ask probing questions of our panelists. We hope you’ll join us.

 

Our Spring Sponsor Event – CMEpalooza Pursuit

Here at CMEpalooza headquarters, we take our internship program seriously. Only the best and the brightest from Grand Lakes University (home of business tycoon Thornton Melon) pass through these hallways.

We expect a lot from our interns, putting them in charge of important tasks such as “Make sure Derek isn’t wearing his shirt inside-out again.” They do vital research as well, such as their current project, “Set the clocks in Derek’s office 5 minutes forward every day and then document how long it takes him to figure out something is awry.”

No one takes advantage of free labor quite like we do.

Alas, our interns don’t always have all of the answers. Case in point — when I asked them for ideas for our Spring Sponsor event, the room turned quieter than the Warnick household when reruns of Alice come on TV (Derek loves his Vic Tayback).

So seeing as I was getting no help from “the kids,” I was thrilled to see an email from a medical writer colleague of mine, Carrie Noriega, arrive in my inbox.

General paraphrasing here — “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to contribute an idea to CMEpalooza. Is there anything — please — that I can do to help you out?”

Far be it for me to dash someone’s dreams, I took Carrie up on her offer, asking her to come up with an idea for our Spring sponsor event.

Admittedly, she initially struggled to come up with something as her first two ideas (brutal honesty coming) sucked. But the third try was jusssttt on the right side of mediocre – hey, we don’t set the bar too high here – and we ran with it.

And with a small seed of an idea, CMEpalooza Pursuit blossomed.

As always, there are prizes for those who successfully enter our Spring Sponsor event. We’re giving out $500 worth of Amazon gift cards to randomly selected entrants – a $100 grand prize, 5 $50 second prizes, and 6 $25 third prizes.

Here are the rules of CMEpalooza Pursuit:

1. Call up the Sponsor page on the CMEpalooza website. You’ll need this for reference purposes to access our Sponsor’s websites.

2. Download the CMEpalooza Pursuit question form by clicking on this link.

You’ll see that questions are divided into categories that will be familiar to anyone who has ever played Trivial Pursuit – Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, and Sports & Leisure. There are three questions within each category, the answers to which can all be found on the sponsoring company website.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to answer every question – just one per category. If you want to be the teacher’s pet, of course, you can answer every question, though you get no formal extra credit, just that all over warm feeling for a job well done.

3. Download the CMEpalooza Pursuit answer form by clicking on this link. This is where you will enter in your answers – remember, only one answer is required per category. I promise that none of the questions are tricky or difficult. If it takes you more than 10 minutes to complete the entire challenge, you are doing something wrong.

4. Email me your completed answer form. It’s scott@medcasewriter.com. All completed forms will be entered into our drawing. One entry per person. Perhaps you make this a company-wise challenge and have your entire team enter individually. Perhaps you keep this a secret so that your chances of winning improve. Whatever. Just make sure that your entry is submitted by the deadline of midnight ET on Thursday, April 6.

That’s about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, they just finished installing an extra springboard at our company pool. Our interns are going to try to teach Derek how to do the Triple Lindy.