A New Sponsor Event: CMEopoly

Week 2 (or more) of the virtual workplace is kicking in for most of us. Hopefully everyone is settling in to some sort of regular work routine. But between video calls with the team and tedious administrative work, you are probably looking for some kind of fun distraction that doesn’t involve “Netflix recommends for you…”

Well then, my friend, you have come to the right place. Not only do we have a fun distraction for you this week, but we have a brand-new event that will even allow you to make some money for very little work and learn a bit about the CME community. Amazing, right?

Since we began rolling out our Sponsor prize events each year, the roster has typically been the same — CMEpalooza Trivial Pursuit in the Spring and CMEpalooza Bingo!! in the Fall. Why? Laziness. That’s about it.

But with the current health pandemic, I had a little bit of extra time last week to come up with a brand new idea. And so, we present to you today CMEopoly. I know, it’s not a great name. But would CMEpalopoly or CMEpaloozopoly have been better? Did Derek offer any alternate suggestions? The answer to both of those questions is shockingly one and the same…(note from Derek: This is so easy. It should be “CMonopolE”. Do I get the $500 now?)

As always, we’re giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards as prizes. Five winners will get $100 each. In the current marketplace, that could buy you a roll of toilet paper, one small bottle of Purell, and a Whatchamacalit bar (I love those).

Here is what you need to know to play CMEopoly:

  1. Click on this link to download the necessary forms. That will give you a game board, the full list of “clues” (thanks to intern Katie for her help with these), and an answer sheet.
  2. Call up our Sponsor page, where you can get information about all of the CMEpalooza Spring sponsors as well as links to their website (this is vitally important since you’ll need them to get all of the answers)
  3. You earn one entry into our prize drawing for every color bundle you complete. There are seven bundles in all. We came up one short of filling the board, so Derek asked me to insert something silly in there. You can complete the answer sheet for one color bundle, two bundles, or all seven.
  4. While you can earn seven entries, you won’t be able to win seven times. Limit one prize per person.
  5. When you complete your answer form, email it to me at scott@medcasewriter.com. Make sure to include your name and professional affiliation so that when we announce that you’ve won, everyone can be sufficiently jealous.

Unlike the McDonald’s Monopoly game scandal from the early 2000s (I highly suggest HBO’s recent McMillions docuseries if you want a 5-hour binge show), CMEopoly is not rigged. Every entrant has the same chance of winning. These chances are generally pretty good, but vary depending on the number of entrants.

Entries are due on Wednesday, April 1 at 5 p.m. ET. Now get cracking.

Making Yourself Useful

With the world turning upside down right now, I think a lot of us are harkening back to the last time when we suddenly had to adjust to a temporary professional “new normal.” I’m referring, of course, to 9/11. This was obviously a very different sort of event, but I’m seeing a lot of parallels in how many of us are dealing with the aftermath.

During 9/11, I was still working in my “first career” as a newspaper reporter in central Illinois (remember my origin story from a few weeks ago?). I think I was either supposed to have the day off or maybe I was going into the office a little bit later that afternoon, but as soon as the Twin Towers collapsed, I rushed into the office, found the editor-in-chief and asked, “How can I help?”

For the next few days, pretty much all of the reporters on staff, regardless of their usual beats, became news reporters. I spent the afternoon of 9/11 on the phone with former area residents now living in New York City. I remember my main interview was with a business executive who lived in a high-rise apartment with a direct view of the Twin Towers. He was obviously stunned with everything going on, but he was extremely patient with me in describing as best he could what was happening. I still have a copy of the newspaper from that day somewhere in the house. It wasn’t a great story, but I am proud of it because it was useful to the newsroom and hopefully to the broader community.

The next several days were somewhat less chaotic but the attitude was the same. People put aside any grudges or distaste for their jobs and came in with the same attitude – “How can I help?”

Which brings me back to our current situation.

I assume by now we are all working from home. For those of you who aren’t used to this, it’s likely a pretty big adjustment. You can’t talk to the person next to you in your cubicle. You can’t take a 5-minute break to walk into your boss’ office and complain about how coworker X is totally incompetent and you hate working with her. For extroverts like Derek who thrive on social connections, it can be a bit isolating (Note from Derek: Clearly, Scott is joking here. I was social distancing before social distancing was cool.)

Compounding the problem is that some of you may not have a lot of work to do. While many organizations are busy figuring out how to transition their scheduled live events into online meetings, I suspect there is likely a slowdown for some people. Are you a meeting planner who spends most of your day coordinating with live venues for upcoming conferences? Probably not a whole lot to do that applies to your usual role.

There is no playbook for how organizations deal with unexpected crises. It’s a time for creative, on-the-fly solutions where the team rolls up its sleeves and individually asks, “How can I help?” There is some great work going on in the CME community right now as we are all being forced to problem solve. I spoke with someone yesterday whose organization managed to turn a live 2-day meeting into an online event within 72 hours. They lost a few registrations but also picked up some new learners. It was a total team effort and it was a real accomplishment because it worked!

This is unquestionably going to be a tough few weeks. I just spent the last 10 minutes teaching my 9-year-old son about compound fractions because he couldn’t hear his teacher on the video explanation she posted. I may not be 7/4 as productive as I usually am, but that’s OK (yes, you all see what I did there). Just like you are, we are figuring out as we go how this is all going to work.

So for anyone worried about stepping out of your comfort zone these next few weeks, don’t be. Asking the simple question of, “How can I help?” is not only going to give you a sense of purpose, a sense of “I still matter,” but it’s also hopefully going to bring you a level of personal satisfaction as you acquire new skills and overcome some pretty significant hurdles. Maybe you’ll be asked to work with new people. Maybe you’ll be tasked with something totally unfamiliar to you. Maybe you’ll just be asked to “sit tight” for a while.

There is still light somewhere at the end of the tunnel, and we will eventually get back to our usual rhythms and routines. In the meantime, embrace the change. It’ll feel good, I promise.

 

Adapting to the COVID-19 Whirlwind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surviving (and Thriving) in an Online Meeting World

Late last Friday, in a rare moment of pre-weekend creativity, I quickly jotted down a dual Twitter/LinkedIn post regarding advice for groups who are being forced to turn their live conference into an online event. More and more organizations seem to be going this route — just this morning, I read about another half-dozen or so larger meetings that canceled their live event and are going the online route. Medscape has a nice summary of all of the current cancellations, but things are changing by the hour as more groups assess their options.

(Quick aside: What does this mean for grant-funded satellite symposia at these cancelled live meeting? I don’t know – I’m not working on any of these. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments. I’m curious to know what groups are doing and what communications are ongoing between supporters/providers)

Anyway, as things continue to spiral worldwide with coronavirus, I thought I’d expand a little bit on the thoughts I shared via social media last week. Maybe Derek will even be inspired to add a comment or two of his own…(note from Derek: Nope. Busy.)

For those of you who are suddenly responsible for figuring out how to turn that live conference into an online event, a few pieces of advice after 6+ years of experience with CMEpalooza:

1. Rethink the format of your sessions. Some things don’t work online at all (problem solving in groups, for one), but some formats just need to be tweaked. Be creative and develop interesting ways to incorporate your faculty into your online sessions.

2. Consider opportunities for audience engagement. You can still use an audience response system. You can still take questions from attendees/viewers. You just need to figure out how to do it within the platform you want to use.

3. Expect some technology issues. You know how the microphone in that live conference room will sometimes buzz and you rush to find the AV tech? This is no different. There will be faculty whose audio doesn’t quite sync up with their video. There may be someone who mysteriously gets “kicked out” of the presentation room. Be upfront with your viewers in letting them know that things may not go perfectly. Prepare for the eventualities and learn to troubleshoot in real time (or work with someone who can).

4. Talk to your IT team and get their ideas. You want to hold concurrent sessions available to viewers through different links? You want to try Facebook Live? You want to experiment with something I’m not even smart enough to think of? Your IT people are the ones who hopefully are keeping up on online tech so don’t discount their input. If nothing else, there will likely be some infrastructure development necessary for your website, so you’ll be needing their help.

5. Keep in close contact with your faculty. Some of these people may have been waiting for years to present their groundbreaking research at your meeting. They are probably incredibly anxious wondering what’s going to happen now. Reassure them that you are working on a solution (you are, right?) that will still allow them the opportunity to be in the spotlight.

6. Consider the attention span of your attendees. Much as we may want to believe otherwise, Derek and I are smart enough to know that pretty much no one watches all 8 hours of CMEpalooza straight through. But then again, not many people will sit in sessions at a live meeting for 8 hours straight either. Be realistic with the expectations of your audience. If you have 2 or 3 “can’t miss” sessions, think about whether you want to bunch them together in one 90-minute block or space them out throughout the day. I don’t know that one solution is better than the other – depends on your audience.

7. Don’t throw up your hands and say “This won’t be as good as a live meeting.” That isn’t true. Different does not equate to worse. Hey, maybe you’ll be a hero and show that different can actually be better.

A Holiday You’ll All Love (Groan)

Happy National Dad Joke Day Everyone! OK, that isn’t really a thing (I thought for sure it would be), so I am unofficially declaring today the official holiday.

You may remember that Derek recently teased in this post how we’re now apparently doing episodes of Terrible Dad Jokes. Not one to miss an opportunity, I thought I’d provide you with some morning groans. The best part of these is that you won’t find them anywhere online or from the cringe-worthy archives of your own father. I made them all up myself!

Here’s how this started: A few months ago, a colleague of mine sent me the following, “I’m reading a book about the history of glue. I can’t put it down.”

Not bad, right? But what’s nice is that the structure of that joke can be modified for a whole lot of other things. And off I went. Here are some of my better efforts:

“I’m reading a book about the history of scoliosis. The spine is broken.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of pencils. I don’t see the point.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of wine. I white down something about each page I’ve red.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of guns. Shoot, let me rifle through the pages to get to the good part.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of rubber cement. I’m stuck on page 252.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of airplanes. The pages are just flying by.”

“I’m reading a book about the history of filet mignon. It’s well done.” [note from Derek: all these jokes are terrible, but this one is not funny. A well done filet is nothing to joke about. There might be children reading, for Pete’s sake.]

“I’m reading a book about the history of CME outcomes assessments. It left me wanting Moore’s.” (I posted this one on Twitter last month)

And finally…

“I’m reading a book about the history of Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s favorite massage parlors. It has a happy ending.”

Thank you everyone. I’ll be here all week.

Comments on the ACCME’s Call For Comments

It’s Friday, and to welcome you to the (almost) weekend, we bring back our Spring intern Katie to share some thoughts:

So who submitted their comments to the ACCME regarding proposed changes to the Standards for Commercial Support at the very last second on Friday? (Derek and Scott look at each other and shrug sheepishly)

We sure did — sorry ACCME! I had several discussions with my team, watched the CME Coalition’s recent webinar, and surveyed the Alliance’s Hospital Health Systems section, all to make sure everyone’s feedback was represented. I heard many different perspectives during the course of my research, and one general consensus I noticed was that there needs to be clarification on a lot of the terms being proposed.

My favorite comments were around the new phrase, “accredited continuing education.” How can you remove the word MEDICAL?? Getting personal here, but I love to say that I work in education and healthcare. Continuing Medical Education is a term I never knew existed until I was in it, but these are the words that represent who I am! I AM CME! “I am ACE!” just doesn’t sound as exciting.

Personal rant over.

All in all, I found that most people I heard from were supportive of the proposed changes and just wanted clarification on a few items. We all are reading the same words, but we all have different programs and processes, and trying to navigate what the new proposed terminology means for each of us is hard.

I look forward to seeing what the ACCME finalizes after the comments are considered and possibly incorporated. Maybe the ACCME will put together an FAQ or update the Compliance Library once the new standards are out that puts some of the new terminology in context. When they introduced this feature for the current standards, it was a game changer for me and super helpful.

And, well, not to toot our own horn, but we have a session in the CMEpalooza Spring agenda that will do a much more comprehensive job of spelling out the community’s thoughts on the new proposed standards.

Hear Us Out – It’s the CMEpalooza Spring Agenda

Derek loves regaling his kids with stories of his dating prowess as a young man.

“Will you…” “No!”

“I was wondering if…” “Wonder no more, chap. The answer is a defiant negative.”

“Do you…” “Ew! Beat it, you creep!” (yes, this particular young woman watched too many early ’80s sitcoms)

Fortunately for our fine feathered friend, he persevered, continually dusting himself off, getting back onto the proverbial horse (or maybe it was an actual horse – I wasn’t there), and continuing in his search for a date to join him for Friday night’s pottery class. Derek made some killer ashtrays for mom and dad back in his day.

His experience (and, well, let’s face it, mine too) serve us well each spring and fall as we invite prospective faculty for our various CMEpalooza sessions and gird for a round of rejections. Fortunately, we hear more yesses than nos (I credit the Aqua Velva aftershave I apply each morning). And while the nos still hurt, they don’t hurt quite as much.

Nonetheless, as we post the agenda each spring and fall, there is often the “Additional faculty to be announced” placeholder as we try to find the best fits for each of our sessions. It happens every spring (and fall too).

With that little tidbit out of the way, it’s time for today’s big announcement:

WE HAVE A SPRING AGENDA!

Yes, that’s right folks, just ignore the “Additional panelists to be announced” and the “TBDs” that pop up here and there. They’ll go away soon enough. Instead, focus on another dynamite lineup of topics that we’ve lined up. Every year you think, “Boy, these guys are thinking outside the box” and that box gets a little bit stranger.

We’ve got REM references, a nod to Schoolhouse Rock!, and of course, the return of our favorite CME Detective, Jake Powers. So take a look, block off your calendar for the day, and prepare for another educational feast. Perhaps if you ask nicely, Derek will even make you a customized ashtray once he fires up his kiln.

When Words Matter (Maybe)

One day last week, Derek and I were exchanging emails about some nonsense topic (it’s amazing how much time we spend on this every week), when I responded to something he wrote with, “We just need to figure out how to do it differently than those other moolyaks.”

Moolyak? What’s a moolyak? Frankly, I couldn’t even remember where I pulled it from, but I knew it wasn’t a phrase I created myself. So off to the trusty Interwebs I went, and tada! — it was from one of my all-time favorite Cheers skits where Cliff offers a story about ritual circumcision. Watch till the end – it kills me every time.

Anyway, “moolyak” is not a term I use often. Frankly, I can’t remember using it recently at all outside of this email. Perhaps it was because I had just come from a bris a few days before and my subconscious pulled up the phrase. Have at that, psychotherapists of the world!

What’s important, though, isn’t to think too deeply about these topics but rather to focus on Derek’s response. He didn’t say, “What’s a moolyak?” He was able to use those fancy things called “context clues” to figure it out. I could have wrote “ding-dongs” or “beetlebrains” or “ninnies” or any one of a number of colorful adjectives instead of moolyak and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Let’s now tie things back to CME by taking a look at something that’s been in the our industry’s news a bit in the last week – the Outcomes Standardization Project (OSP). We had a session in the Fall of 2018 as this group was ramping up their efforts, and they have done impressive work. There is a comprehensive website that is now available with a variety of resources, and just last week, an article was published in the Journal of European CME that looked at the progress of this consortium of experts over the last 3 years. We are even acknowledged at the end of the article among those who have “provided meaningful contributions.” Why Derek’s name appears before mine, I am not certain, but let’s overlook that insulting error for now (note from Derek: [exchanges a knowing nod with the reader]).

Every few years, there is a call to “standardize” something in CME. For instance, a few years ago, there was some brief momentum to standardize grant submission portals. We all know how that went. The OSP team has certainly done much better, and produced something that might, might be valuable to our community. After years of hearing people throw around outcomes terms that some in our industry simply assumed meant the same thing to everyone, they realized that, no, there are a lot of different interpretations of some really basic vocabulary and well, goshdarnit, we should do something about it.

Now that the brunt of the OSP’s initial work is complete, they have offered to us how they believe specific common outcomes terms such as “participant” and “learner” and “completer” should be defined. They have even have included terms which I would have though were somewhat obvious such as “pre-test” and “follow-up assessment.” This group has done a lot of hard work with undoubtedly hours of conference calls and emails behind them, but really, the hardest work is still to come. It basically comes down to the question, “Will anyone care?”

We have likely all heard about how it takes approximately 17 years for medical research evidence to be adopted into clinical practice. It’s a number that is startling. We all often educate the medical community about the latest and greatest, yet the truth is that it’s going to take many years and many repetitions before a large part of our audience even considers changing their practice how we and our faculty might suggest.

So is the CME community going to be any different? Do we want to be any different? Are there those among us who will decide, “You know what, I am going to change how I determine when a learner has actually completed an activity now?” or will we simply fall back upon the definition we have always set within our organization?

To their credit, the folks who make up the OSP seem to understand the challenge before them. In their recent article, they highlighted the importance of consensus-building and outreach throughout the CME community to get all-important buy-in. It won’t be easy, for example, to convince company XYZ that their “1000 learners and 500 completers” based upon their internal definitions must now be revised to “500 learners and 250 completers” with the OSP’s new proposed definition. When funding dollars are potentially at stake, there is undoubtedly going to be pushback. “If company XYZ isn’t revising their internal definitions, why should I?” That sort of thing. We’ll see if some of the major players in the world decide to become trendsetters or naysayers.

In the meantime, go have a beer with your favorite moolyak. You can send Derek the bill.

Completing the “Origin” Chain

It seems as if this is the week that we’re all writing about our “CME origin” stories — Derek led us off last week and Intern Katie followed him a few days ago — so I guess I’d better share mine. It’s equally riveting.

As a 16-year-old high school junior, I remember completing an assignment where we had to write a letter to ourselves 25 years in the future. You probably had to do it too – seems like one of those things every high school English teacher in the country would have conspired to assign to their students.

The assignment was given right about this time of year, so I wrote something like, “I assume you are at the Super Bowl getting ready to cover the game for Sports Illustrated.” (Keep in mind that Sports Illustrated was a big deal back then. Now? Not so much.) The details of my essay are a bit hazy, but I definitely remember writing, “I’ll be very disappointed if you aren’t doing something related to sports.”

Sigh.

Yes, 16-year-old Scott would not be particularly impressed with my career path, but as with many of us in our little CME niche, it’s actually turned out quite nicely, thank you.

Unlike Derek, I did actually find full-time work in my initial chosen field — sportswriting — spending 5 years toiling away in the glamorous “not-Phoenix” part of Arizona and the equally-glamorous “not-Chicago” part of Illinois before becoming frustrated enough with my lack of professional progress and walking away.

My first healthcare job was at a medical publication company, where they apparently churned through people like me who didn’t know the difference between a myomectomy and a myeloma every couple weeks. I was told that one recent hire started on Monday morning, went to lunch, and didn’t come back. Great. That was reassuring.

What came next was even worse. As a “Welcome to our new employee!” gesture, the team I was working with said they’d take me to lunch.

Great, I love a free meal!

I sat quietly in my corner cubicle waiting for someone to come get me “around noon.” Noon came and went. 12:05. 12:10. I didn’t want to be the annoying newbie interrupting busy people, so I waited until 12:15 to stand up and see what was going on.

The department was empty. Everyone else had gone to lunch but no one had thought to take the new guy along. Was it a hint? (Yes Derek, you can insert your snarky comment now) (Note from Derek: Too easy. I’ll let it slide.)

Anyway, I survived the day after profuse apologies (“Oh, we all thought someone else was taking you.” Sure, sure) and kept plugging away. I could talk about the intricacies of Temple basketball’s 1-2-2 zone press for hours, but now I had learn about the ABCs and XYZs of bulk allograft transplantation for osteochondral lesions of the talus. It was not easy. There were many days when I felt way, way over my head. Katie wrote about how she was overwhelmed by all of the jargon and abbreviations at her first CME department meeting. We’ve all been there.

Within a year or so, I transferred over to the medical education group and found my home. This was back in the “Wild Wild West” days of CME where supporters were typically very much involved in the development of content. I remember numerous lavish dinners the night before a live program where the “supporters” (these were all marketing folks back then) would drop lots of money on food and drink and then sit side-by-side with you the next morning at the actual program offering their thoughts or commentary to be shared “during a break.” It was certainly different.

I was likely a bit of an arrogant, self-absorbed 30-year-old know-it-all (things haven’t changed very much) as I meandered about professionally over the next decade, wondering why no one realized how brilliant I was (Note from Derek: Again, too easy.) I finally started making some real progress about a decade ago, making enough friends that striking out on my own as a freelancer back in 2014 wasn’t quite as risky as it might have otherwise been.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to partner with some really talented and kind people over the last several years. I am not naturally a particularly nice person (I was quite proud of my last professional nameplate where we all were assigned a cartoon doppelgänger. I was Oscar the Grouch), but I like to think the CME world has made me a bit more well rounded. I make fun of Derek a lot – you know you love it!! – but it’s OK because he is truly one of nice guys. I think that people like me more just because I’m tied with him through CMEpalooza. I tell my son all the time, “Surround yourself with good people. That way, everyone else will think you are a good person too, even if you aren’t.” It’s good advice for you too.

(Note from Derek: Well, crap, I wasn’t expecting that. Does this mean I need to go back and delete the jokes I made about Scott?

[thinks]

Nope. Nice try, Kober.)

How I (Katie) Learned About CME

We’re joined again today by our CMEpalooza Spring intern, Katie, who brings her cheery, sunny personality back to the blog. Needless to say, you don’t get that from either of us, so enjoy the respite!

Hello CMEpalooza groupies — hope you are having a great day! I wanted to share with you what happened on my first day in CME and how I’ve learned the ins and outs of our little nook.

So one day while I was in a different sort of role at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I had just gotten back from going out to lunch (which I rarely do) and got a message that the vice president of human resources was looking for me.

Oh no! Did I do something wrong? Was I about to get fired for taking a 1-hour lunch? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

So I enter her office and see that my manager is also sitting there… and now I’m really scared! Fortunately, they weren’t there to fire me, but rather to tell me that there was a department that needed some help and they both thought I would be the perfect person to assist them with a current project. I forget whether I said anything, but I guess I must have said, “OK,” because 30 minutes later, we were walking over for a 2 p.m. meeting.

I arrived and sat down with a room full of people I didn’t know throwing around a bunch of cancer terms I had never heard of, with one dizzying acronym after another. I wrote as many down as I could, planning to look things up later. At the end of the meeting, the woman sitting next to me asked nicely, “Please let me know if there is anything I can help with.” It’s one of those throwaway lines that you are supposed to say to people to be polite, right? I mean, I probably mean it, but Scott and Derek? Eh. (Note from Scott and Derek: She’s right. We don’t mean it.)

Anyway, instead of pretending I captured everything perfectly, I looked at her and asked, “WHAT DO ALL THESE LETTERS MEAN?” She kindly talked me through a few, but I was still left with a lot of research to do. The most important abbreviations that stood out for me, the ones I heard over and over, were  “ACCME” and “AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.” So I took to the ACCME and AMA websites and read through them multiple times.

That’s how I’ve primarily learned about CME – it’s been self-taught, on-the-fly education through reading, asking my peers (they should know by now not to say to me, “Please let me know if there is anything I can help with,” right?), and engaging with the CME community. I’ve also learned a lot from attending live meetings. My first was the annual ACCME meeting where I took the pre-conference session that discussed the basics of CME. I learned about the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, became a member, and have gone to their annual meeting for the last two years. I attend the local CME meeting for providers in the northeastern United States. I learn so much from attending these meetings, not just at the sessions, but also at the networking opportunities where I have the chance to discuss my day-to-day struggles and learn best practices.

I participated in my first CMEpalooza during the Spring of 2019. I love going to the Archive page and being able to view any one of the 100+ previous CMEpalooza sessions if I’m curious about a topic or need a fresh perspective on something. Where was Jake Powers when I started in CME?!

I’ve learned when I feel puzzled about something, I’m never alone, and that no one should be afraid to ask questions. So if you’re new in the CME community, don’t be afraid to speak up when you don’t understand something — we’ve all been there!