Live, In-Person Education? Now? Well, Yes

As some of you may be aware, I started my professional career as a journalist, more specifically a sportswriter for several small to mid-sized newspapers across the United States. I had a reputation for asking hard-hitting, no-holds-barred questions. Like these:

“Coach, why did you decide to call for a quarterback draw on 4th-and-20 down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter?”

“Player X, seeing as how your team lost tonight’s game to your biggest rival by 30 points, do you regret staying out at the bars drinking until 2 am last night?”

How the Pulitzer committee overlooked my journalistic contributions continue to baffle me (if you have any sway over the voters, feel free to put in a good word for me).

I’m often asked by people if I miss daily journalism. My truthful answer is, “No, not really.” And it’s true. There are lots of things I don’t miss – the hours, the pay, the people (some of them). But I do miss the interviewing – being curious about something and getting the answers that satisfied my curiosity, and hopefully the curiosity of people who read the newspaper as well. These days, I get to do interviewing in some capacity every so often as part of my regular job when I have to talk to course faculty about something related to the goings on in their area of specialty, but it’s rare that I’m really super interested in the topic.

So when I saw recently that Primary Care Network (PCN) was planning on having a true, in-person live event next month in Hilton Head, SC, I figured it was time to dig out my “Scoop Kober” fedora (note from Derek: [rolls eyes]) and get some answers to the numerous questions I had on my mind. Jill Hays, Executive Director of PCN (yes, they are one of the many CMEpalooza sponsors this fall) was gracious enough to agree to an interview.

Here is the edited transcript of our conversation:

OK, so, um ,why? (I told you I ask the best questions!)

Our last live program was in March in Las Vegas right before everything kind of exploded with COVID. Even with that program, we got lots of phone calls where people were concerned, their employers weren’t allowing travel, but we still went ahead and did that program.

Not long after that is when things really hit hard, and we rescheduled all of our planned summer programs for next year. So that left Hilton Head, which was in September. At the time, we said, “Well, let’s see what happens,” and we held off on making any decisions for a few months. We were in close contact with the hotel, and they were very flexible with us, which unfortunately hasn’t been the case with all of the venues we had contracted with.

So we made the decision to move ahead with Hilton Head maybe a month and a half ago. We had quite a few people who had registered for the meeting, so I sent them all a survey to see how they are feeling about the event. The last thing I wanted to do was plan to move forward, and then 2 weeks before the program, everyone cancels and I don’t have a program. The survey asked about concerns regarding travel, if they had any travel restrictions from their employer, were they concerned about their safety being at this meeting, and then if we had to cancel the meeting, would they be willing to do a live webinar?

Our responses generally showed that yes, there were concerns, but that people still wanted to attend the live meeting. Based on those responses, we decided that there were enough people interested that we decided to move forward.

Our hotel was great in that they tore up our original contract and worked with us on the number of attendees we were now anticipating. Our sleeping room and food and beverage minimums came way down, which eased our burden and stress. The hotel obviously wanted to host the meeting for their own financial reasons, but they didn’t want to force us into something that wasn’t going to benefit us as well.

We didn’t do any recruitment for the meeting from March until later in the summer. And even then, we did have some people respond to us by saying, “Are you crazy? We’re in the middle of a pandemic!” and I completely understand where they are coming from. But I think there are lots of people with a different viewpoint, so if you don’t want to travel or you can’t travel, then you can do the live stream.

How many physicians have currently registered for the live, in-person meeting?

We currently have 45 registrants

Are most of the registered attendees local?

Typically, we recruit to physicians all over the United States, but for this program, almost everyone who has registered is from the East Coast.

What about the faculty? Are they going to be there on site?

We have two faculty presenters, both of whom will be at the conference. One of our original faculty had to pull out so we had to find a replacement for him. But one of our faculty is coming in from the West Coast, and both of these gentlemen are flying in.

What are the safety precautions being put in place? How is this going to look different than a typical PCN event?

First of all, we have a huge room. The venue was able to give us a big enough space to allow for adequate social distancing. We’re literally sitting one person per 6-foot table. Of course, if they are coming with someone, they can sit together.

We also worked with the venue to figure out how to serve the food. We usually serve a hot breakfast in the morning and have beverage service throughout the 3-day meeting. This year, there will be a server, but there will also be a buffet with plexiglass separating the attendees from the staff and food. Anything that can be prewrapped like muffins and bagels will be wrapped individually.

Then there are things like ARS. We usually have attendees use keypads that we distribute to them. But for this meeting, we’re using a different approach where they can log onto a website using their phone or their computer so that they don’t have to mess with keypads.

For registration, we’ll have packets ready in advance so that they can just grab them when they arrive.

Of course, we’ll also be following the hotel safety guidelines as well.

How many members of your team will be at the event?

We’ll have 3 staff and 2 faculty onsite. We usually send a few more people, but since this is a smaller meeting, we don’t need a big team to be there.

How nervous are they and how nervous are you about this?

I’m actually bringing my husband and son with me, only because they were supposed to come last year (note: that event was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian). Honestly, I’m not excited about traveling by plane. That was a consideration. We spoke to our faculty and staff to make sure they were comfortable traveling to this program. We definitely don’t want to put anybody at risk or make anyone feel uncomfortable.

With things opening up a little bit and there being a shift where people are taking safety precautions a little bit more seriously with wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines, I’m excited about it. I know one of our faculty considered driving to avoid the airlines, but it was a 10-12 hour drive, so he decided to fly.

Is there a real financial benefit to holding this event or are you doing it more to show that live, in-person education is possible in this environment?

We wouldn’t be moving forward with the program if it wasn’t to our financial benefit. I really didn’t want to cancel the program when we had so many people registered and interested. Obviously, we want to do this in the safest way we can, but yes, there is a financial benefit for us to hold this meeting.

 

 

Our Intern’s Rules of Survival

(Note from Scott: Intern TJ is back with her report on how things are going in her life. I challenged her to include three items in her next blog post – Silver Spoons, backgammon, and Kamala the Ugandan Giant – so let’s see how she did)

The setting…. a cozy living room turned hybrid classroom and office by day.

The characters…. one bright-eyed 5-year-old kindergartner, one brilliant and eager 16-year-old high school junior, and one mama/CME professional/eLearning homeschool facilitator.

The props… One HP laptop, one Google Chromebook, one MacBook pro, two iPhones, one color coordinated family wall calendar that incorporates everyone’s class and business meeting times, one kids’ folding table full of papers, books, an assortment of crayons, one very small desk, and one large desk (slightly organized).

As my fiancé walks through the living room to leave for work, he notes, “Our living room sounds like a busy call center.” An excellent analogy.

Like many families across the country, we weren’t blessed with “Silver Spoons(that’s one)  in our mouths, and this scene may sound familiar to many of you. Trying to get acclimated to a “new normal” that involves parents working from home while facilitating their children’s eLearning schedules can be a daunting and exhausting task. Not only are you expected to juggle your regular schedules (not easy for those of us who are preparing for our first virtual annual meeting), you also have to juggle the schedule for your children.

Maybe you are already used to working from home. Maybe you already are as organized as Marie Kondo. Nevertheless, I’d like to offer four rules that I swear by to help you survive another week:

  1. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail
    My weeks begin on Sunday. I generally start by making a meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for the week. For my kindergartner, that meal plan usually includes snacks. This is so important because it takes a task off my plate for the rest of the week.
  2. The early bird catches the worm
    I start every day at least 1 hour before my house is up. I take this quiet time to access emails, follow up on requests, and complete any task that was left undone the day before. I also make a list of what needs to be done for the day and refer to it throughout the day. By the time my family wakes up, I’m caffeinated and pretty ahead of the game.
  3. Take your lunches and break
    It’s not easy to separate work and home life when your home life is intertwined with work. But if you take a 15-minute break from your day and 30-60-minute lunch, it will help to rejuvenate you. What does that look like when working from home? Well, don’t use your break time and lunch to catch up on household chores. Treat your day as if you are away from home in the office. If you had to go to work every day, would you really fold clothes or do laundry on your lunch break?
  4. You are not in this alone
    We all have different techniques that work best for our households. Whatever you do, remember that you are not in this alone. There are more and more resources and tips available that you can access to help you get a jump on your progress.

Now… I’ll end this post with an ode to Kamala the Ugandan Giant (that’s two), who wrestled barefoot while wearing African War Paint for a mask; much like my kindergartner after hours, who wrestles with his dad barefoot in the living room. Enjoy!

(special aside from Scott: I worked at my college newspaper with a guy whose high school gym teacher was the very same George “The Animal” Steele shown in this video. True story.) 

(Not bad TJ. Got two of three, and probably the two hardest ones!)

It’s Catchy, It’s Addictive, It’s Fun – It’s the CMEpalooza Fall Agenda!

I spent a few minutes this weekend on YouTube with my son watching some of the great ’80s chewing gum commercials.

Big Red

Doublemint

Juicy Fruit

And the best one of all, Big League Chew

Perhaps it’s just because I was reliving childhood nostalgia, but man, they just don’t write product jingles like they used to. I have tried for years to convince Derek to create a CMEpalooza jingle, but apparently, if it’s not a haiku, his brain simply can’t compute.

In the ’80s, it was these product jingles that set brands apart. You’d walk into the neighborhood drug store (Thrift Drug for me [Drug Fair for me -Derek]), scan the rows of gum choices, immediately set aside Trident and Dentyne (“Yuck”), take one step toward Bubble Yum Bananaberry Split before being rapped on the head by mom or dad (“It’s all sugar!”), and then head straight to the gum that represented your favorite jingle. They had the catchiest tune, so surely their gum must be good, right? We were such idiots.

It’s in that spirit of creativity that we present to you today the CMEpalooza Fall agenda. Back when we were the only virtual live event for the CME industry, we knew that we could trot out any old slop and people would watch (we didn’t, of course, but we could have [note from Derek: good save.]). Now, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to up our game. Everyone wants a piece of what used to exclusively be our domain, so we’ve been extra thoughtful in putting together a creative agenda for CMEpalooza Fall (Wednesday, Oct. 14 – mark your calendars).

We have our first-ever whodunit. Another winner-take-something (or nothing?) trivia contest. Project managers get put into the spotlight for the first time. And then, of course, we tackle some of the big issues of the day (social justice, COVID-19), but in an interesting, unique way that will hopefully keep your attention.

We’ll have much more information on each of these sessions soon (and hopefully will fill in the few remaining “TBA” slots) but for now, take a gander at the Fall agenda while you hum your favorite product jingle. If you are feeling really inspired, maybe you can save Derek some time and come up with the official CMEpalooza jingle. We promise to give you partial credit.

 

The Big Interview You Might Have Missed

(DISCLAIMER: It goes without saying, but this is a satirical post. The interview didn’t really happen. Or did it….) 

On the heels of the publication of last week’s Q&A by MeetingsNet, Derek and I have become hot commodities on the interview circuit. The networks have been dealing with our agents, and we have the Times, Post, Tribune, Herald, and Daily News all waiting in the wings. I thought that Derek and I had made an agreement to hold off on any further interviews until things cooled down a bit, but he apparently doesn’t listen to me (shocking, I know). Consequently, when his favorite local cable access channel called to see if he’d sit down for a no-holds-barred interview with their ace reporter, Glen Wallace (yes, you know his more famous cousin, Chris) about the current state of CME, Derek couldn’t agree quickly enough.

For everyone who missed the interview – that would be all of you – here is the transcript in all its glory.

WALLACE: Thank you and welcome to “Chestnut Hill Corner.” Mr. Warnick, you’ve agreed to answer all manner of questions, no subject off-limits. Thank you for allowing such candor.

WARNICK: You are welcome, I guess. Wait, is my wife going to see this?

WALLACE: Let’s not worry about that right now.

Let’s start with the surge of virtual, live continuing education across the country in the last few months. You still talk about it as, quote, “a fad.” But I want to put up a chart that shows the number of learners at virtual, live events over the course of the last few months. As you can see, we hit a peak here in April of 36,000 healthcare provider learners a day. Then it went down and now since June, it has gone up more than double. One day this week, 75,000 learners in one day for live, virtual education. More than double.

WARNICK: Glen, that’s because we’re measuring attendance like no one else in the world. Our measurement skills are unbelievable. If we didn’t measure attendance like we are, you wouldn’t be able to show that chart. If we only counted half of the people who logged on as learners, those numbers would be down.

WALLACE: But this isn’t a fad, sir? This is a clear trend.

WARNICK: No, no. I say fad, it’s going to go away. We have some providers that are doing a lot of virtual, live education but we’re going to get that under control. And you know, it’s not just this country, it’s many countries. We don’t talk about that in CME circles. They don’t talk about all of the virtual, live education being delivered in Canada and Australia and in some parts of Europe. You take a look, why don’t they talk about Canada? They are doing a ton of virtual, live education. All I can say is thank God I told them to build proper firewalls, because if I didn’t, it’d be a huge problem from a compliance standpoint.

WALLACE: But sir, we are providing more virtual, live education than any country in the world. The number of CME certificates being generated is higher than Canada, it’s higher than Russia, and the European Medicine Agency said they will no longer accept credits obtained from virtual, live education developed in the United States.

WARNICK: Yeah, I think what we’ll do is turn that around and do the same thing. If you remember, Glen, I was the one who pushed very early to stop accepting CME credits for programs developed in Europe.

But when you talk about rate of noncompleters of new enduring activities, we have one of the lowest rates in the world. I think we have one of the lowest rates of noncompletion in the world.

WALLACE: That’s not true sir. We have a – we had 22% of people who didn’t finish the post-test on all cumulative virtual, live events one day last week. You can check it out.

WARNICK: (Turns to Fall intern TJ off screen) Can you get please get me the rate of noncompleters?

TJ is right here. I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest rate of noncompleters in the world. Number one rate of noncompleters. I hope you show the scenario because it shows what fake outcomes data is all about.

WALLACE: All right. It’s a little complicated, but bear with us. We went with numbers from the ACCME, which charted the rate of noncompleters for 20 countries with the most virtual, live education for healthcare professionals. The US ranked 7th, better than the United Kingdom, but worse than Canada and Japan.

WARNICK: Whatever. Can we move on?

WALLACE: OK, sure. Physician education — numbers of certificates way up after completing a virtual, live educational event. Nursing education — the most credit hours in the last 4 months last week. Pharmacists completing their necessary hours of credit 6 months before they need to. A lot of people say this is because we don’t have a national plan to keep these numbers down. You talk about individual providers and accrediting organizations. We don’t have a national plan. Do you take responsibility for that?

WARNICK: I take responsibility for nothing. TJ, can I get some water or something? (TJ hands Derek a glass of water, wondering how she got suckered into this role).

Some providers have done well, some have done poorly. They’re supposed to be able to administer as many certificates as they need.

Now, we have somewhat of a surge in virtual, live education in certain medical specialties. In other areas, we really limiting it. But you don’t hear people complaining about connectivity issues. We have all the Zoom accounts we can use. We’re giving out usernames and passwords to other countries.

WALLACE: But, sir, the number of virtual, live events is up 37 percent in the last week.

WARNICK: Well, that’s good.

WALLACE: I understand. Certificates generated are up 194 percent. It isn’t just that the number of programs has gone up, it’s that the number of certificates is growing.

WARNICK: Many of those learners don’t even bother printing our their certificates. They click A, C, A, D, and we put it down as a qualified learner. Many of them – I guess it’s like 99.7 percent – aren’t even going to remember that they attended the virtual, live event.

Go out and look at the news – you’ll see the number of virtual, live events are up. Many of the noncompleters from those events shouldn’t even count. It’s like one presenter doing a 15-minute Zoom talk. The number of noncompleters are up because we have the best outcomes measurement processes in the world.

No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of counting noncompleters. You look at other countries – they don’t even separate out completers from noncompleters. It’s a completer as soon as someone logs on. They don’t go around having massive areas of assessment and we do. And I’m glad we do, but it really skews the numbers.

WALLACE: Let me just, let me just ask the question, sir. Why on earth would your administration be involved in a campaign at this point to discredit Dr. Brian McGowan, who is one of the industry’s top experts in assessing completers vs. noncompleters?

WARNICK: Because we’re not. If one man from the CMEpalooza team doesn’t like him because he made a few mistakes — look, Dr. McGowan said, “Don’t measure all completions.” Dr. McGowan told me not to ban medical students from virtual, live events — it would be a big mistake. I did it over and above his recommendation. Dr. McGowan then said, “You prevented thousands of pieces of useless data about student learners” — more than that. He said, “You prevented tens of thousands of pieces of useless data.”

Dr. McGowan’s made some mistakes. But I have a very good relationship with Dr. McGowan.

I think we’re gonna be very good with the virtual, live education. I think that at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope.

I’ll be right eventually. I will be right eventually. You know I said, “Virtual, live education is going to disappear.” I’ll say it again.

WALLACE: Then there are the true-false questions. From the first day that the ACCME said that true-false questions were acceptable as post-test options, you said that you weren’t going to agree. Will you now consider an industry-wide mandate to include true-false questions in all post-tests for virtual, live education?

WARNICK: No, I want providers to have a certain freedom, so I don’t believe in that. I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody puts in true-false questions, everything is great. Hey, Dr. McGowan said don’t use true-false questions. The CEO of the ACCME – terrific guy – said don’t use true-false questions.

Everybody who is saying don’t use true-false questions – all of sudden everybody’s got to include true-false questions, and as you know, true-false questions can cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in true-false questions. I think true-false questions are good.

But I leave it up to the individual providers. Many of the providers are changing. They like the concept of true-false questions, but some of them don’t agree they should be part of a post-test.

WALLACE: Mr. Warnick, you’ll be happy to know that our public access channel has a new poll out today, and you’re going to be the very first person to hear about it. In the national horse race, CMEpalooza is the second-most popular educational event for CME professionals behind only the annual Alliance conference, 49 percent to 41. That’s 3 or 4 points slimmer than it was a month ago. And on the issues, people trust the Alliance more to foster collaboration by 17 points, to recognize the diversity of providers by 21 points, and even on creativity, they believe in the Alliance more by 1 point. I understand that there are more than 60 days until CMEpalooza Fall, but at this point, you guys are losing.

WARNICK: First of all, we’re not losing, because those are fake polls. They were fake in 2019 and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2019. They interviewed 22 percent accredited providers. Well, how do you do 22 percent accredited providers? You see what’s going on. I have other polls that say CMEpalooza is better. I have a poll where we’re leading across every provider type. And I don’t believe that your polls, they’re among the worst. They got it all wrong in 2019. They’ve been wrong on every poll I’ve ever seen.

WALLACE: I — I must tell you…

WARNICK: No, I’m just telling you. And let me ask you this, so on creativity, we’ve always led on creativity by a lot.

WALLACE: But I’ve got to tell you, if I may, sir, respectfully, in our poll, they asked people, which meeting is more organized? Who’s got — whose faculty is better? The Alliance beats you on that.

WARNICK: Well, I’ll tell you what, let’s take a test. Let’s take the CHCP test right now. Let’s go down, the Alliance president and I will take a test. Let her take the same test that I took.

WALLACE: Incidentally, I took the test too when I heard that you passed it.

WARNICK: Yeah, how did you do?

WALLACE: It’s not – well, it’s not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says “what’s that” and it’s a doctor.

WARNICK: No no no…

WARNICK: You see, that’s all misrepresentation.

WALLACE: Well, that’s what it was on the web.

WARNICK: It’s all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I’ll bet you couldn’t, they get very hard, the last five questions.

WALLACE: Well, one of them was count the number of learners in the room. They showed you a picture with stick figures.

WARNICK: Let me tell you…

WALLACE: There’s three. Six. Nine.

WARNICK: … you couldn’t answer — you couldn’t answer many of the questions.

WALLACE: Ok, what’s the question?

WARNICK: I’ll get you the test, I’d like to give it. I’ll guarantee you that the Alliance president could not answer those questions.

WALLACE: OK.

WARNICK: OK. And I answered all 35 questions correctly. I could be a CHCP if I wanted to be one.

WALLACE: One final question — in general, not talking about CMEpalooza, are you a loser?

WARNICK: I’m not a loser. I’m a college graduate. I have a job.

WALLACE: But are you gracious?

WARNICK: You don’t know until you see. It depends. I think certificates by mail is going to rig the accreditation system. I really do.

WALLACE: Are you suggesting that learners who get a certificate mailed to them shouldn’t be able to be recertified as healthcare professionals?

WARNICK: No. I have to see. I have to see.

WALLACE: There is a tradition in the medical industry — in fact, one of the prides of the industry — is the acknowledgment that no matter how a CME certificate is earned, it is honored. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?

WARNICK: What I’m saying is that I will tell you eventually. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?

I think that’s enough. TJ, walk me home. (Storms out)

Picking My Brain on Live Virtual Education

Earlier this week, Derek and I were interviewed for a MeetingsNet article focused on (what else?) how the world of CME has changed in these last few months as the shift to virtual live education has gained steam. Apparently, since we’ve been doing this CMEpalooza thing way before virtual live education became cool, we’re supposed to have some sort of useful insight to share. Sadly, we spent most of the conversation debating which was the coolest of the Keebler Elves (did you know they all have names? Yes, yes, they do. Buckets is my guy).

That’ll teach anyone in the future to expect anything of significance to come out of our mouths.

But I guess since you’re here and everything, I might as well make myself useful and offer some personal observations based on what I’ve witnessed over the course of the last few months related to live virtual education:

  1. If you build it, they will come
    I suspect there was some initial consternation over whether there was going to be an audience for virtual live education. But with so many people in so many industries (and yes, even healthcare) working from home or working unusual hours, the attendance for many live broadcasts has been somewhat of a shocker. The viewership for CMEpalooza Spring far surpassed any previous year’s event, and I know that a few of the larger specialty societies had their servers crash due to extraordinary levels of traffic.
  2. The days of bad connections and shoddy audio/video are over (almost)
    In the early days of CMEpalooza, there would inevitably be a session where we couldn’t get someone’s video to work or the audio would trail way behind the video images. That’s been pretty rare in the last year, and it’s not only because Derek and I are really, really good at what we do (note from Derek: we’re not.) Online A/V technology has gotten much better and even the default camera on your laptop or phone will typically provide a pretty crisp image. It’s the rare live online session I’ve watched over the course of the last few weeks where I said, “Ew, that looks/sounds pretty terrible.” And with 5G right around the corner, things will only get better.
  3. The bells and whistles surrounding online platforms have gotten fancier (and probably more expensive) but they still can’t cover up bad ideas and bad content.
    There are still too many people who are falling prey to unproven gimmicks that turn out to be either very confusing for attendees or simply don’t work. I attended one online event where they took a room of 100 people and divided us up into breakout groups of 8 people. We were told, “Here are the 5 things we want you to talk about in the next 15 minutes. And… breakout!” In my breakout room, we ended up staring at each other for 2 minutes in total silence, one person disconnected due to the awkwardness, and then we wasted the next 10 minutes mostly talking about nonsense. One of those ideas that may have sounded promising, but just didn’t work. At all.
  4. There is a lack of creativity on session design
    Pretty much every session I have attended has been the same – one or more presenters, a handful of slides (usually), maybe a polling question or two, and then some Q&A from the audience. There hasn’t been a single time I’m walked away from a session and said, “Hey, that was pretty cool.” Maybe it’s because a lot of us are still getting used to the functionality of online platforms, but think bigger people!
  5. Don’t make me look at other people
    Derek sent me a screenshot last week from a session he attended where one of the people watching spent the better part of the hour eating his lunch. Derek said it was a “big salad.” Presumably, not the famous “big salad” from Seinfeld, but it looked pretty hearty. One of my least favorite things about some of the current online platforms is having to watch people who aren’t among the presenters. It’s quite distracting. And I certainly don’t want people looking at me, although I know how to turn off my camera (I guess some people don’t). Figure out a way to disable this (note from Derek: Agreed. Massive Zoom calls with 400 people on camera are dumb. Thus ends my contributions to this blog post.)
  6. The financial puzzle remains the big conundrum
    Then there is the big question, “Do live virtual events have staying power?” We’re not talking about CMEpalooza – we’re not going anywhere. It’s more about that 5,000 person multi-day conference or that 300-person satellite symposium or even that 25-person grand rounds. Remember that many of these surround hugely profitable events that drive the budget for lots of organizations. A 1-year blip is painful but likely not devastating. But can some organizations survive if this is a long-term shift? I honestly doubt it. Maybe the hybrid solution will become more popular – please God, don’t make that mean a simulcast of a 3-hour symposium with nothing more than a video feed – though I guess we’ll have to see what the market will bear.

 

 

Welcome to Our CMEpalooza Fall Intern

It should surprise no one that Derek is a natural pessimist. Virtually any time I ask him a question where he has to guess a number that speaks to the popularity of CMEpalooza (ie, “How many people do you think will watch our live sessions?” or “How many sponsors do you think we’ll get this year?”), he usually predicts some ridiculously low number that causes me to roll my eyes. Fortunately, he’s been wrong far more often than he’s been right (note from Derek: this is accurate.)

And so when we set on a search for our CMEpalooza Fall intern – mind you, even after a successful kickoff of our Spring internship program —  his prediction on the number of applicants we’d get was roughly equivalent to the number of Pulitzer Prizes this blog is bound to win in the future (that would be “Zero.” OK, maybe he predicted “1.”).

Fortunately, Mr. Pessimism was wrong once again and the applications came in waves, despite the challenge we posed to our prospective interns to write us a haiku (for those who botched it, it’s 5-7-5. Probably good to remember for the future).

Of the many worthy applicants, we both picked the same person, meaning that there would be no virtual arm wrestling match to figure out who would be chosen. And so with that, let’s all welcome our Fall intern to the mix.

Hello CMEpalooza Family!

My name is Tejuana Moore, but everyone calls me TJ. I’m beyond thrilled to be the Fall intern for CMEpalooza! I’m working on having my business cards printed right away.

Tejuana (TJ) Moore
CMEpalooza Fall Intern

I think it has a nice ring to it! I’ll admit that when I received an email from Scott and Derek on Monday, I was reading it thinking that I had not been selected. I read the email at least three times before it sunk in that I had in fact been chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

So a little about myself. When I was younger, I used to pretend that I was a CME professional for all types of medical specialties. I imagined reading through disclosures to make sure that faculty members were in fact eligible to present or plan the content. I pretended to write out designation and accreditation statements on activities that had CME credit attached to them. I especially loved pretending to calculate how many hours of CME an activity received. And now, I’m living my dream.

…Just kidding of course.

Like all of you, I literally stumbled into the CME world. I started my career as an annual meeting coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Although the work was daunting and repetitive, I soon realized that this work was the stem to the core of the organization’s success. The core of the annual meeting was the education sessions. This intrigued me, so I moved on to governance and education, since 98% of the sessions at the annual meeting were selected by committees. Once I realized the important role of the education created by specialty societies in the careers of their members, I understood why CME was such an intricate piece of the puzzle. And, so here I am, having served in my current role as CME Manager at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology for a little over a year.

My ultimate professional goal, at least for now, is to become a CME guru, which is why I applied to be the CMEpalooza Fall intern. I hope to learn as much as I possibly can during my internship and glean valuable experience from these two talented and witty gentlemen (Scott, of course, is the more talented and wittier of the two) (note from Scott: I don’t write this stuff. Honest. I just confirm its accuracy) (note from Derek: This is an outrage! Scott is brainwashing the interns before I get a chance to brainwash the interns!)

I have followed the CMEpalooza blog for some time now and have had the opportunity to tune into four live CMEpalooza events. I can say with confidence that working with this team is a “CME Dream come true.”

 

Me, an Intern? But Why?

Last week, we announced the opening of the application process for our CMEpalooza Fall intern. You may have seen the news on the ticker of one of your favorite cable news stations (alas, we were not deemed important enough for those hard-hitting news anchors to actually discuss and debate. Their loss).

I suspect, however, that many of you dismissed the news without giving it a second thought. “Why would I want to be an intern? I have 15 years of experience in CME, I work full time, and I am just barely surviving being cooped up at home for the foreseeable future with my spouse, our two bratty kids, and a cat with bladder issues. An internship? No thanks.”

Look, I get it. You think of an intern and you see a 20-something year old right out of Hollywood casting ready to take on the corporate world and get a leg up on the rat race.

But that’s not what a CMEpalooza internship is. For starters, there is only one intern for each of our meetings so you are special right from the start. Secondly, you aren’t getting us coffee (no matter how many times Derek may ask you to), you won’t be making hundreds of copies of our Fall agenda (there is no copier), and you won’t even need to tweet to your friends and colleagues how great CMEpalooza is (though that would be nice). There is no mindless busywork because “we don’t have time to spend with you.” This is actually something that will be fun.

As the CMEpalooza Fall intern, you’ll get to do basically whatever you want to do. You get to tap into your creative side that has been beaten down these last few months. Your name gets out to the CME community as someone who cares about our industry and has something important to say. And hey, you get to work with Derek and I (OK, let’s ignore that one as a perk).

There are many more details about the nuts and bolts of this internship on last week’s post that I’m not going to rehash here. If you are interested in applying, you have until the stroke of midnight ET on Friday, July 3 to submit your application. There isn’t much to it, but you should probably be familiar with the structure of a haiku (it’s 5-7-5 people).

 

 

Bring Some Joy to Your Life: Our CMEpalooza Fall Intern Application is Open

Hello again people. We’ve missed you. Heck, we’ve missed anyone. How do I know? Even Derek said to me last week, “Man, I really miss socializing with people besides my wife and kids.” You know when the world’s self-proclaimed No. 1 Introvert starts to break down that things are seriously ca-ca.

Anyway, after the usual dragging of our feet following a successful Spring meeting (record attendance once again BTW), Derek and I reconvened last week to start talking about CMEpalooza Fall (set your calendar for Wednesday, October 14). We have the usual basket of good/bad ideas for sessions that we’ll be picking over a bit more this week, but one thing we know we’ll be repeating is the selection of an official CMEpalooza Fall intern.

Admittedly, our Fall intern will have some pretty big shoes to fill. Not only will they be following in the footsteps of our most talented intern ever (the illustrious Spring intern Katie), but they’ll also have to up their game to even approach the varied skills of Derek and I. OK, maybe that second component won’t be so tough.

Not convinced this is the perfect opportunity for you? Maybe you’ll be swayed by what Spring intern Katie had to say about her experience.

“It was OK, I guess.”

A rousing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.

So what exactly are the expected duties of the CMEpalooza Fall 2020 Intern?

  1. You’ll have the opportunity to contribute to the CMEpalooza blog at your leisure. Maybe once a month or so. You can write about just about anything. Hopefully nothing that will offend others. That’s typically my territory.
  2. We’ll have you shadow one of us virtually as we plan a CMEpalooza session. You’ll learn how the proverbial sausage is made. Maybe you’ll even pick up a thing or two that you can incorporate into your real job. You’ll even have the chance to show up on camera during a Fall session so you can show your doubting friends and family that, yes, you are officially part of the CMEpalooza team.
  3. You will spend every other Saturday spending 2 hours sewing masks to send to every CMEpalooza panelist for our Fall meeting (optional duty)
  4. You can let us know if there is another way you want to contribute. Maybe you are web-savvy and have some suggestions on how to spruce up the website. Maybe you have an idea on how we can market CMEpalooza better. Maybe you just want to frequently tell Derek and I how great we are. These all work.

So what qualifications are we looking for?

  1. You should be working in CME in some capacity
  2. You should have a thick skin – it’s pretty certain that we will make fun of you at some point
  3. You should not consider Mork and Mindy to be the “greatest TV show ever about an alien being” (that would be ALF). Sorry, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

Beyond that, we’re open to anyone. Maybe you have only worked in CME for 1 year and want to learn more about our industry? Great. Maybe you’ve worked in CME for 25 years and want to do something fun? Also great. Maybe it’s been your lifelong dream to get a personal email from Derek and you think that this is your chance? Er, um, OK.

Please also note that if you applied for our Spring intern position and were not selected, you can send in an application once again for this fall. The questionnaire is slightly different, but still very simple to complete.

While this is an unpaid position, Derek has promised to send our CMEpalooza Fall 2020 Intern an unopened pack of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards (he’s a fan of Schizo Fran).

The application process for the CMEpalooza Fall 2020 Intern is simple and short. Fill out a brief questionnaire by clicking on this link to apply. Every answer is vitally important so please think before you respond. The application process will close on Friday, July 3, at which time a special task force will cull through the applications to select our winner. You can email us if you have any questions (our email address is on this site somewhere – you just need to find it).

You Had Questions, We’ve Got Answers

Picture this: Packed live in-person/virtual meeting, lots of questions from the audience, limited time to get to them.

A voice says: “We’re sorry, but we’re out of time. If we didn’t get to your questions, please feel free to write it out, give it to one of our staff, and our faculty will address them after the session. We’ll make their responses available, um, somehow.”

But do they? Not in my experience.

Well, CMEpalooza is not like those other meetings, so when our faculty promises to “get back to everyone” with their thoughts on questions we could not address during our live sessions, they mean it! And so, today, we’re offering you additional thoughts from two of our most popular sessions last week where the questions came flooding in from the live audience:

In addition, we also had requests for slides from two other sessions. You can find those below:

Our CMEpalooza Spring Intern Says Her Farewell

It is with a heavy heart that Derek and I wished our inaugural CMEpalooza intern Katie a bon voyage this week. Alas, we couldn’t wave from the shore as she boarded a cruise to Puerto Vallarta…

Here are Katie’s parting words for everyone.

Well, folks, all good things must come to an end!

It has been a pleasure sharing my thoughts with you all, and I hope you enjoyed CMEpalooza Spring 2020! I’ve learned a few things on this journey. For instance, Scott is awesome and Derek is, um, Derek (I kid, they are both wonderful, but Scott made me say it!)

I had CMEpalooza pulled up on my TV earlier this week, and it was great to hear what everyone had to say. I’ve been limited to my laptop and its speakers for so many weeks, which just doesn’t have the same effect, so actually being able to watch a bigger screen was a nice treat. If you missed or want to replay any of the CMEpalooza Spring 2020 sessions, they are all available online here (just click “View archive” under each session title).

While creating my farewell post, it’s impossible to not address the elephant in the room, COVID-19. It has tremendously impacted our industry. All of us are in this same boat of uncertainty, thinking about how we can help the front-line staff fighting for survival every day while also continuing the “normal business” of educating the full swath of healthcare providers. I love the quote, “Change is the only constant in life.” COVID-19 has brought a lot of change, but it has also brought opportunity. A few sessions during CMEpalooza Spring addressed ways in which their organization is adapting to our new world. With each session, there was something all of us can take away from the conversation and change about our current processes to better our programs.

The 9 a.m. session, entitled “How Should the CE Industry Respond to a Novel Healthcare Crisis,” brought the interesting perspective of a frontline provider that I hadn’t heard yet.

The 10 a.m. session talked about the proposed changes to the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support. After this session, the proposed changes don’t seem like such a shock anymore. Perhaps that’s because we’re in a shocking state in general, but if the changes are approved, we’ll have time to adjust, and in the end, it will be fine. We can do it!

The 11 a.m. session was all about OUTCOMES! They nicely tied together best practices for National Board of Medical Examiners guidelines, how to create questions, and tips on ways review your data (measurements and costs).

The noon session panelists shared their perspectives on ways to focus on behavioral change to meet outcomes and how to help physicians adopt tools to meet their educational goals and improve patient care.

The 1 p.m. session was a nice discussion where panelists shared opportunities and their expertise on how to build momentum to move forward with educational redesign.

The 2 p.m. session was a great one to listen to. Even though we don’t submit grant requests at my institution, it was interesting to hear how things go down on the grant supporter side. I also learned a new term – change of scope – and that there is an expectation to have a contingency plan in place when submitting grants.

The 3 p.m. session was Jake Powers. They did it again! I love this session. It’s a great blend of creativity and knowledge. I thought it was funny that I hadn’t heard of “change of scope” before the previous session, and then Jake Powers solved the mystery for me by providing the definition and applying it. So much better than what Google would have provided. Thank you, Jack, I mean Jake!

The 4 p.m. session is one of my favorite formats. It is nice to see real-life cases that affect our community and hear how a variety of panelists would approach each challenge. The session was split so you got to hear how the MEEC group and hospital-based group would handle different scenarios presented. (Tiger King was a hot topic… just kidding it was COVID-19)

As always, every session was great, and I really enjoyed learning from my peers. It is so important during this time to reach out to your fellow colleagues, participate in these online meetings, read online articles, and/or listen to podcasts. As it relates to the CME industry, not the news (as I’m steering clear for a bit), it makes me feel more at ease to be in the know and hear about how others are adapting to the changes.

I remind you all to take deep breaths through the moments of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety that will arise in the coming weeks and months. You are not alone.

It has been a great experience working with Scott and Derek, and I thank them for the opportunity to be part of this extraordinary community. I’m sure I’ll see you all around!

Be Well and Be Safe,

Katie O’Connell – First-Ever CMEpalooza Intern 😊