What Makes a Good CMEpalooza Abstract?

We work in a strange industry.

Where else can you spend days/weeks slaving over an intricate document (ie, the dreaded grant proposal) with a total inability to talk to the party that will receive your work and get a sense of their general expectations? And then have absolutely no idea whether the “denied” request was “good, but not enough,” “just OK,” or “absolutely dreadful”?

Take the following scenario for example:

Little Derek W. (I have de-identified our “fictional” subject to protect his identity) is assigned a book report by his 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Mathewson. He is allowed to pick a book of his choosing and then must write about the topic of “I would/would not recommend this book to a friend because…”

Derek W. is an avid Nancy Drew fan, so chooses the classic, The Secret of the Old Clock. But Derek W. is confused. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson to ask for her help.

“Is my ‘friend’ supposed to be a kid or an adult? And what if there are some reasons I would recommend the book, but other reasons why I wouldn’t? How long is this report supposed to be? Does it need to be handwritten or can I type out my response?”

Mrs. Mathewson completely stonewalls him. She ignores him as if he doesn’t exist (just like the girls on the playground). Derek W. asks his parents if they can help. “Sorry son. This whole book report thing is a mystery to us, too.”

So Derek W. does his best, trying to figure out what Mrs. Mathewson is looking for. A few weeks later, he gets a crumpled up note passed to him after class.

“You failed.”

Derek W. is apoplectic. Tears are streaming down his face. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson, asks her, “Why did I fail? What was wrong with my book report?”

She said, “Sorry. I can’t tell you. It could be that we had too many reports on the same book, it could be that your report didn’t align to the criteria of our grading committee, it could be that we had already given out too many other passing grades.” That’s all I can really say.

Seems rather familiar to many of us, right?

Today though, you are in luck my friend, because I am about to unlock every secret to a successful abstract submission for CMEpalooza Spring. Perhaps you noticed last week’s Call for Abstracts where we provided basic information on how to submit an abstract for our upcoming Spring event (Wednesday, April 17) and you are noodling over an idea or two.

Well, just so you don’t waste too much time, I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to guarantee* that your abstract gets accepted by our esteemed abstract review committee (* – not guaranteed):

DO – Read the guidelines carefully before you submit and follow all of the instructions
DON’T – Think to yourself, “Eh, they probably don’t mean this. I’m just going to submit for a boring, 60-minute, PowerPoint heavy presentation on a topic that is pretty dull and drab.”

DO – Recruit colleagues from a variety of professional settings. We love having a variety of viewpoints for our sessions. CMEpalooza veterans, CMEpalooza rookies – doesn’t matter.
DON’T – Only include your friend in the cube next to yours as a co-presenter. You certainly can only include people from your own organization, but there should be a reason for that beyond, “I am feeling lazy.”

DO – Submit a fresh idea that has never been presented before.
DON’T – Recycle a session that you have presented in the past at another venue. If you give it a fresh twist, great. But if you are simply submitting the same idea to us that you are presenting at another venue before CMEpalooza Spring, we can usually tell.

DO – Pay attention to the February 1 submission deadline
DON’T – Submit something on February 2. We don’t look kindly upon tardiness.

DO – Check your spelling and grammar before you submit your abstract.
DON’T – Submit an abstract written in a foreign language. Por favor.

DO – Take a chance. “I don’t know if this is going to work, but we’re willing to try” is good for CMEpalooza
DO – Think about the nuts and bolts of your session before you submit. “We think this is going to work and it’s going to be really cool” is even better
DO – Propose some sort of wacky format that is going to be fun for you, your co-presenters, and our audience. “We are super excited about this. It’s weird, but it’s going to be awesome” is even better still!

There, that should do it. A guaranteed* acceptance (* – not guaranteed).

Perhaps you have other questions for us. Great! We can answer every single one. If you are going to the Alliance next week, feel free to corner Derek and fire away. He loves talking to people for hours! (note from Derek: I do not.) Here are some topics he loves discussing to help you break the ice: fashion, tennis, Asian cuisine, dominoes, the Punic Wars, crocheting. And, of course, the Nancy Drew series.

Whoops, I just de-de-identified our “fictional” student, didn’t I? Oh well.

The Controversy of CMEpalooza Haiku

DISCLAIMER: It’s not always easy in this era of “right vs. left” animosity to laugh about anything. This is my attempt at satire. Hopefully it works.  

For every great event, there is a history. Sometimes, this history is written down for the record. Sometimes it is told in story, passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, this history is buried deep and eventually wiped away, never to be discovered by the general public.

So yes, there is history to CMEpalooza, some of which Derek and I have hidden to both protect ourselves and to cover up some of our shameful past.

In light of recent political events, though, there is one moment that we feel we need to speak up about, and we’ll do that here, today, so that you can judge for yourselves.

It occurred early in the days of CMEpalooza, just as Derek was preparing to unleash his first batch of CMEpalooza Haikus on his adoring fans. You may now know CMEpalooza Haiku as one of our most revered (or pathetic, depending on your perspective) traditions, but like many traditions, CMEpalooza Haiku had a bumpy launch.

As he prepared the first batch of 5-7-5 verses, there were accusations levied against Derek from deep in his past, accusations that both surprised and flummoxed him. These accusations were serious, serious enough to bring into question his ability to share his poetic “skills” to the world of CMEpalooza. He was asked to testify before a group of CME/CE leaders to address these accusations.

Here is the transcript of his testimony, with no judgement or snarky asides added:

Ms. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to make my statement. I wrote it myself yesterday afternoon and evening. No one has seen a draft of it, except for my dentist, who won a poetry contest in 10th grade. This is my statement.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Richardson publicly accused me of writing a haiku with the improper number of syllables in the second line during our 10th grade English class. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically and unequivocally. All 14 of the other students in the class, including two of the accuser’s close friends, have said they recall no such haiku. One of these longtime friends said under penalty of perjury that he does not remember even reading one of my haikus.

The day after this allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted a hearing as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded a hearing the very next day. Unfortunately, it took this committee 10 days to schedule this hearing. In those 10 days, as I predicted, my family and my reputation as a haiku savant have been totally and permanently destroyed by additional vicious and false allegations.

One accuser claimed that I argued as a college junior that “occasionally” was a 4-syllable word.

Another stepped forward to accuse me of reusing the same haiku to win a poetry contest in elementary school.

Finally, and perhaps most disappointingly, my wife’s 2nd cousin claimed that he overheard me on the phone begging someone to dictate a haiku for me that would smooth over one of the disagreements that occurred early in my marriage.

When these allegations first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation by any member of the CME community. This committee now has conducted a thorough investigations, and I’ve cooperated fully. Listen to the people I know. Listen to the people who’ve known me my whole life. Listen to the people I’ve grown up with, and worked with, and played with, and coached with, and gone to 76ers games with, and had Shirley Temples with. And listen to the witnesses who were in my English class 29 years ago.

Since I first announced plans for a CMEpalooza Haiku blog post in July, there’s been a frenzy among poet laurates around the United States to come up with something, anything, to prevent CMEpalooza Haiku. Shortly after I announced plans for CMEpalooza Haiku, one individual said he would, “use every limerick, sonnet, and elegy she could write” to destroy CMEpalooza Haiku. Another individual claimed that CMEpalooza Haiku was “childish.” Childish. Think about that word. It means “like a child.” To insinuate that CMEpalooza Haiku could be written by a 7-year-old is well, OK, maybe it’s true, but it still hurts.

I understand the passions of the moment, but I would say to this committee, your words – whether they rhyme or not – have meaning. Tens of CME professionals listen carefully to you.

The behavior of the poetry and CME community has been an embarrassment. This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a venerable poet until it was clear that CMEpalooza Haiku had overcome previous hurdles and would soon be a reality.

And then – as no doubt was expected, if not planned – came a long series of false allegations designed to put my ability to create three simple 5-7-5 lines of poetry on my own in question.

Crazy stuff. Alleged midnight library raids when I have been accused of destroying Shakespeare plays. Fights on boats in Rhode Island over the merits of Robert Frost. All nonsense, reported breathlessly by my sworn enemies.

This is a circus whose consequences will extend long past the life of CMEpalooza Haiku. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good poets of all genders, colors, and creeds from writing witty haikus.

I’m here today to tell the truth. I’ve never written an illegitimate haiku in my life. Not in high school, not in college, not ever. One of my closest friends to this day writes limericks for his church group every week – he confided me in the 2000s when we were in our 30s that he had been accused as the originator of the “There once was a man from Nantucket” limerick. He sought my advice. I was one of the only people he consulted.

Allegations of poetic impropriety must always be taken seriously, always. Those who makes allegations always deserve to be heard. At the same time, the person who was the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard.

As you know, I am a child of two of the least accomplished poets of their time. My mother spent hours every Sunday trying to find a word that rhymed with “leprechaun.” My father overcame numerous taunts as the only poet in southern Delaware who focused exclusively on the obscure sestina.

My parents’ trademark line was, “Use your poetic sense. What sounds right to you? What sounds wrong?”

This onslaught of last-minute allegations does not ring true. I am not questioning that Mr. Richardson may have read an ill-constructed haiku written by some person in some place at some time. But I have never written such a haiku. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge.

Mr. Richardson’s accusation stems from an English class assignment that he alleges was given to us during the spring of 1989, 29 years ago. I have submitted to this committee a list of every homework assignment I was given during that year. Why did I keep such a list? My dad started listing every task he completed during every day of his life in 1978. He did so, well, I don’t why he did so, but he did.

In ninth grade, I started keeping lists of my own. I’ve kept such lists for the last 29 years. When I was a kid, the lists are about what you’d expect – some goofy parts, some embarrassing parts.

But I did have the spring of 1989 documented pretty well. The assignment described by Mrs. Richardson presumably was given in April because I believe we were working exclusively on a term paper about the symbolism of The Scarlet Letter during the rest of the semester.

If it was in April of 1989, my lists show that I had no time to write a haiku on top of the burden of homework that I was required to complete. Let me emphasize this point – if the assignment described by Mr. Richardson happened in April of 1989, my list shows all but definitely that I did not complete it.

One feature of my life that has remained true to the present day is that I have always had a lot of close friends who were poets. This started in high school. Maybe because I have always been socially awkward and prefer to converse in rhyme.

But anyway, I remember writing haikus nearly every night and sharing them with Barry, Jessica, Tom, Mike, Lauren, or Natalie. The list goes on – friends for a lifetime, built on a foundation of 5-7-5. Several of these colleagues left their houses for the first time in many years to be here sitting behind me today.

These friends have rallied around me to help refute these ugly allegations. If these allegations prove to be enough to destroy the life’s work of an aspiring poet, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process that define our community.

I will leave you with this thought as you judge these circumstances:

Let the haikus live

For CMEpalooza

Withers without them

CMEpalooza Haiku – coming Wednesday. Judge for yourself everyone.

Congratulations to our CMEpalooza Bingo!! winner

Congratulations to Jessica Stewart, Continuing Professional Education Coordinator at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, TX, the big winner of $500 through CMEpalooza Bingo!! Her name was randomly selected yesterday from the hundreds of thousands of entries we received.

Here is what Jessica had to say about CMEpalooza (before she even won!!):

“This blog makes my day every time it comes out.”

Did that compliment influence the random number generator we used to select the winner? Yes, yes, it did (OK, no it didn’t, but it sure didn’t hurt!).

For anyone who doesn’t have a life interested in all of the correct responses to our Sponsor Bingo card, you can access everything through this link.

Congratulations again to Jessica. Feel free to hit her up for a loan.

CMEpalooza Bingo!! = Free Money (like, $500 worth of free money)

With our usual pomp and circumstance (i.e., a single, semi-inflated balloon released into the stratosphere), we announced the new and improved version of CMEpalooza Bingo!! on Monday.

We understand that some of you like to dilly and dally, so this is your reminder that entries are due to me on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET along with a witty tagline (optional wittiness, though people are trying their best).

You can get all the forms you need at this link. Full rules were included in the earlier post, but here are the highlights:

  1. Download the Bingo!! forms and queue up the Sponsor tab on our website.
  2. Complete a Bingo!! (do I really need to explain to you what that is? OK, fine, it’s 5 in a row – horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).
  3. Email your entries to me at scott@medcasewriter.com. You can enter up to 3 times, but each entry needs to have a unique Bingo!!
  4. Wait until Monday morning (October 1) when we have the prize drawing. We’re giving away one single, gargantuan prize of $500. Second place is first loser.

Old Game, New Rules, Bigger Prize: It’s #CMEpalooza Bingo!!

As all 4,256 loyal followers of the CMEpaloooza blog know, prior to every biannual broadcast, we do a special event where we challenge you to find answers to some really piercing questions on the websites of some of our valued Sponsors. There has been CMEpalooza Pursuit!! and CMEpalooza Scavenger Hunt!!, but the all-time favorite seems to be CMEpalooza Bingo!!

Perhaps it’s because so many of you spend your Friday nights down at your local community VFW holding tightly to your lucky talismans as you pray for “O 68”, but man, you guys love your Bingo.

And so, CMEpalooza Bingo!! is back again this fall.

But there is a catch. Partly because we have too many sponsors to fit onto a Bingo card (27 of ’em) and partly because, well, we wanted to make some tweaks to generate more interest, there are a few new rules.

Here goes:

STEP 1: Download all of the necessary Bingo forms by clicking on this link. That will give you the Bingo board, the Bingo questions, and the Bingo answer sheet. You should also queue up our Sponsor page, which will give you direct links to all of the websites you will need to visit.

STEP 2: A successful entry involves completing a Bingo – it can be horizontal (that’s straight across), vertical (that’s up and down), or diagonal (that’s, um, diagonal).

Wrinkle No. 1: A successful entry also involves completing the clue for one of our two Gold sponsors – Academy for Continued Healthcare Learning or Genentech. So a total of six (6) answers are necessary this year for a successful entry. I can hear you whining already about the extra work, but hey, think of all the interesting information you are going to learn about our industry!

STEP 3: Email your completed form to me at scott@medcasewriter.com along with a witty subject line (witty subject line is optional). Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 30.

Wrinkle No. 2: You can enter up to 3 times this year, but you need to complete a unique Bingo for each entry (yes, you can repeat the Gold sponsor question). You can even send all of your submissions to me in a single bulk email. Every entry is another chance to win our grand prize.

STEP 4: Wait until the morning of Monday, October 1, when we will have the CMEpalooza Bingo!! prize drawing in the law offices of Simmons, Fultz, and Brown (note from Derek: I see what you did there).

Wrinkle No. 3: In past years, we had multiple winners of smallish prizes ($25-100). This year, we are doing away with the piddling stuff and simply giving away one single $500 prize. That’s right, $500. What might you do with $500? I guess it depends on your personal preference, but here are some practical ideas courtesy of The Motley Fool website – pay down your credit cards, make an extra mortgage payment, buy life insurance. Here are some less practical ideas courtesy of me – buy a football autographed by Carson Wentz, a 2-oz tin of Beluga caviar, or a George Costanza signed and framed baseball card.

Sounds simple enough, right? Yes, yes it does. So get cracking there, chipmunk.

What Can You Learn From CMEpalooza?

Earlier this summer, I was invited to give a presentation via webinar to the Colorado Alliance for CME (CACME) entitled, “The CMEpalooza Experience: What Can CME Providers Learn From It?” For now, we’ll ignore the fact that at least 15 people likely turned down an invitation before the meeting planners were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel and invite me (I’m not offended). Instead, we’ll choose to focus on the presentation itself.

I must admit that when they chose this topic from a list of possible ones I sent to them, it was somewhat daunting. It’s just not something I had ever thought about. CMEpalooza is just something that Derek and I do – we don’t spend hours thinking about how we do it or why we do it, and that’s probably a good thing. Neither of us has enough brain cells to waste on that sort of advanced level thinking, and we’d probably just gum up the works even more than we usually do anyway.

But since I didn’t want to disappoint what were surely hundreds of rabid CME/CE professionals (I couldn’t see them so let’s just pretend there were more than 5 people in the audience), I spent a few hours trying to come up with something worthwhile. And, well, since I spent a few hours coming up with something for those hundreds of folks, I thought I’d share some of the highlights with the thousands of you reading this today. It’s called “repurposing content.”

So without further ado, here are the lessons you can learn from CMEpalooza and apply to your day-to-day:

  1. Throw things against the wall. Most won’t stick. But some of them will!
    CMEpalooza as a whole is one of those things that Derek threw against the wall that stuck. Things like CMEpalooza Spotlight didn’t. It happens. Take chances with your CME programming – there is nothing that makes our job duller than trotting out the same formats over and over. Some of my most rewarding successes – and yes, abysmal failures – have been in trying something different.
  2. Utilize online platforms to the best of their capabilities
    There are a lot of online delivery platforms with fancy bells and whistles available to us these days. It’s important to understand what each one offers and tailor your activity based on the capabilities of each individual platform. For instance, we use Google Hangouts for our CMEpalooza broadcasts – it’s a video-based platform where you can bring multiple people together in the same “room” to talk through things. Showing slides can be a bit clunky. Therefore, we emphasize panel discussions in lieu of heavy slide decks. That’s a very basic example, but I’m hoping get what I mean.
  3. Partner with the right people
    There is nothing worse than being stuck on a project for months with people who you don’t like, who don’t pull their weight, or offer excuses when things don’t get done on time. Sometimes, you are stuck working with people due to circumstances you cannot control, but there are times when you enter into a partnership willingly that quickly goes south for various reasons. Just be careful. As much as I poke fun at Derek through our blog, he’s actually pretty good to work with once you get past his Philadelphia 76ers fanboi qualities and his strange infatuation with Justine Bateman. Just don’t tell him I told you that (note from Derek: Wait a minute…did Scott just say something nice about me?? Wow! I will be writing about this in my diary tonight…).
  4. Develop a consistent marketing strategy
    This is one I’ll chalk up to pure luck. I certainly don’t ever remember sitting down with Derek and saying, “I think we should try to market CMEpalooza as a fun, come-as-you-are kind of meeting that covers serious topics without taking ourselves too seriously.” It just kind of happened that way, probably in part due to our personalities. But hey, it works for us, and we’ve just kind of gone along with it. Listen, marketing CME activities is difficult. VERY difficult. You are trying to reach an audience that probably considers a lot of what we offer to be ambient noise that they’d rather ignore. Nonetheless, there are many CME providers who have created a unique “personality” that they use to drive their marketing. I think it’s a good strategy.
  5. Build your professional network in a way that makes you comfortable
    Derek and I aren’t the most socially outgoing people in the world, and it’s probably gotten worse for both of us since we started working from home. We’re not to the point where we need to talk to a volleyball to keep us company (at least I’m not [Derek: no comment]), but we’re also not the people who are going to walk into a room and suddenly grab everyone’s attention. For me at least, CMEpalooza is the way I meet a lot of people in our industry. It’s partially why we include so many new faces in each iteration of our event – not only do we get to present different viewpoints to our audience, but it also broadens our personal professional network. Building relationships outside of your day-to-day walls is crucial to a rewarding career. There is no downside to getting to know good people who may become educational partners in the future (see item #3). Figure out a way to get to know them can be tricky and will depend upon your personality, but it’s not something you should ignore.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously – it’s just a job people
    Q: Why can’t your nose be 12 inches long?
    A: Because then it would be a foot


And Now… Our 2018 CMEpalooza Fall Agenda

It is just me, or did this summer just drag on and on and on? Enough with the 16 hours of sunlight, not having to check the weather forecast every morning before getting dressed, daily visits from the ice cream truck, and many (many) glasses of wine on the roof deck.

As Punky Brewster would say, “Holy macanoli, who needs it!”

Surely, there are more important things around the bend as the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and school buses belch black smoke throughout the neighborhood. I’m talking the start of the NFL season (our World Champion Philadelphia Eagles kick off the season next Thursday night), fighting with the kids to see how long they can delay starting their homework, and leaf piles in the backyard.

But most importantly of all, we’ve got CMEpalooza Fall lurking jjjuussttt around the bend (Wednesday, October 17 from 9 am-5 pm ET, but you already knew that).

After a few brief teasers from Derek these past few weeks, we’re finally ready to show off our Fall agenda. You can check it out by clicking this link. It’s not 100% locked in final final, but it’s pretty close, and we’ve been dilly dallying with it enough, so voila…

As usual, you’ll see a variety of sessions that will hopefully apply to the wide cross section of settings and responsibilities of CME professionals. You’ll be able to learn about MACRA, the mysterious RFP process, vexing accreditation questions, and many other topics. My personal favorite session title is called “What I Hate About You,” which could very well have been the title of the tell-all biography written by Derek’s 11th grade girlfriend (coming soon to a bookstore – wait, do they still have bookstores? – near you). Alas, it’s merely a way for providers and supporters to get a few things off their chest in a collegial sort of way. (Note from Derek: my personal favorite session title is the one I almost called the RFP session — Do You Even RFP, Bro? I changed it at the last minute because I figured I would probably be the only one who thought it was funny. That seems to happen a lot…)

Sessions will, of course, be FREE for anyone to view either live or in our archives. So take a look at the agenda when you have a chance, pull a few Rainbow Brite puffy stickers from your 3rd grade sticker book to highlight those sessions you are most interested in, and stay tuned to the blog for many more witty posts in the coming weeks.



A CMEpalooza Pilot Study

We’re always trying to add something new and fresh to the CMEpalooza experience, so as we prepare for Day 2 of CMEpalooza Spring, we’ll going to be piloting the Poll Everywhere audience response system during a handful of our sessions. Many of you have likely seen this app-powered technology in use in the live setting, and I really like it.

It’s a little tricky embedding Poll Everywhere into the Google Hangout platform, but our crack interns swear to me that it’s going to work (and if it doesn’t, sweet little Fiona Lamorello in cube 3D is fired. Fired, I tell you!)

So if you want to interact with some of today’s selected sessions, you will need to do one of two things before we crank up the CMEpalooza engine this morning:

  1. Download the Poll Everywhere app to your phone or tablet. When our sessions begin, you’ll just need to fire up the app and enter in “cmepalooza” as the Username for the presentation you want to join. The questions will pop up as they are being asked in the presentation.
  2. Don’t download the Poll Everywhere app and simply point your browser to pollev.com/cmepalooza. Same thing – questions will pop up as they are being asked.

Either approach works equally well. You can do it people – be brave!

CMEpalooza: A Look Back at the Beginning

Well, howdy friend. It’s good to see you again. I feared after you fell into the watering hole during Farmer McKenzie’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration that we might not see you again for a while. Glad I was wrong.

You picked a good day to come back to the award-winning CMEpalooza blog, because I’ve got the ye-olde time machine fired up and ready to go. It’s the fifth anniversary of the little-meeting-that-could, so I thought it would be a good time to go way back to the beginning, March 20, 2014, to see how far we’ve come.

Hop on in.

Something oblong and green zooms away (humor me people – I ain’t Ray Bradbury)

Over there you’ve got Derek Warnick. Sure he don’t look like much. The guy hasn’t shaved in about a week, and I think that yellowish stain on his shirt is left over from the nacho cheese he ate for breakfast 3 days ago. But give the guy a break. He’s trying to be what we call an in-de-pen-dent consultant, which basically means he checks his email every morning to see if anyone will pay him to do, um, something. No one is exactly sure what.

You can probably imagine how this has all gone. After a month or so, Derek has plowed through all 65 episodes of What’s Happening!! and he’s currently knee-deep into Season 3 of its ill-fated sequel, What’s Happening Now!! Needless to say, his wife isn’t looking too kindly at Derek’s new-fangled ‘career.’

“Will you get off your butt and do something today!?!?”

We cleaned up the language a little bit, but you get the point. It’s here that Derek’s life is about to take a major turn for the better. Just as with so many success stories throughout history, this one started with a nagging wife and a lazy husband.

You may note that Derek is grumbling as he peels himself off the couch. He had secretly been working on a manifesto he called “Believe in the Stages” that spelled out in detail how his beloved Philadelphia 76ers could tank the next few seasons, draft a few potential superstars, and transform themselves into a powerhouse franchise. He even emailed this strange document to a man named “Sam Hinkie” – not surprisingly, he never heard anything back. It was a pretty outlandish idea that would certainly never actually work in real life.

“So now what?” Derek, thought to himself. “Hmm, I just came back from the Alliance meeting where I spent our last $500 in savings buying Drambuie shots for everyone on the last night. I vaguely remember sitting in a session in my usual spot (back row, corner seat closest to the door) and noticing that there was very little energy in the room. I heard of lot of people complaining about how all of these live meetings suck up so much time and money that they just aren’t worth the trouble any more.

“Hmm, maybe there is something there… Nah. Better to focus on how Raj and Re-Run will get out of today’s pickle down at the diner. These guys are hilarious.”

“Move your butt, Warnick. Now!”

There’s that pesky wife again. Good thing, too, because that’s the thing that finally got Derek moving. And once he started with one good idea, the next came pretty easily. And so did the next. And so on.

By the time the day was over, the seed had been planted for the first CMEpalooza. This first extravaganza was a little different than what you may now be familiar with. Basically, it was a presentation free-for-all. You wanted a 15-minute slot to talk about the watercooler conversation you had with the, er, watercooler repair man about P values? You got it. A full hour to walk through every ACCME accreditation criteria one by one? No problem. Anyone who wanted to present on any topic got a slot.

Underestimating the overall interest of our little world, Derek was figuring maybe he’d get enough volunteers to fill a few hours. Instead, he got 2 full days worth of presentations. From “Why Adult Learning Theory Is Insufficient to Drive Learning” through “Implications, Applications and Approaches to Complying with the Sunshine Act,” there was a lot of ground covered.

Give the man some credit. He flew solo for the first CMEpalooza Spring. He learned the ins and outs of Google Hangouts On Air (with a little coaching from a certain someone we’ll call “Scott” – more on him later) and decided that would be the presentation platform. He created a website – the very same one we use today – and populated it with some very basic information, including an agenda and a live viewing page.

From the very start, CMEpalooza was a hit. Turns out that people like free education – who knew? The technology platform was stable and reasonably user-friendly. There were a few audio and video glitches here and there, but all in all, that first event was a success. People liked it.

Once a little momentum was generated, things kept rolling. That “Scott” guy came on board prior to the initial  CMEpalooza Fall and helped give our events a little more structure, introducing things like sponsorships, our typical panel format for sessions, and other important tweaks to further shape the CMEpalooza brand.

A little more than 5 years later, we’re now on the cusp of this year’s CMEpalooza Spring. We’re returning to our roots and splitting the event into 2 days with 4 hours of content on Wednesday and another 4 hours on Thursday. Some things have changed since Derek first came up with the CMEpalooza concept, but our core tenet – free education for all – remains the same.

We hope you’ll join us for the live version of our broadcasts this week. If you’re busy, we understand, and that why we have our Archives. Our sessions are usually dropped in a few hours after they are complete.

We’ll keep trying new things year after year, and we thank everyone in our audience for sticking with us, laughing at our (mostly terrible) jokes, and coming back time and time again to watch and participate in our broadcasts. This is how we have fun.



Your CMEpalooza Pursuit Winners

Another record-setting number of entries for our sponsor event, CMEpalooza Pursuit, this spring.

Due to the overwhelming response, we invited dignitaries from many exotic and far-flung lands — like New Jersey — to attend our prize drawing. People bundled up in the frigid weather to participate in our festivities, which included a t-shirt cannon, an appearance by Christian Slater, and Derek leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore.” It was quite the spectacle.

Here are the lucky few who emerged as winners in our prize drawing this year (it was apparently helpful to be named Amanda):

  • Grand Prize winner ($100 Amazon gift card) — Jill Hays, Primary Care Network
  • Second Prize winners ($50 Amazon gift cards) — Jesse Steltzriede, ASCO; Audrie Tornow, Paradigm Medical Communications; Amanda Kaczerski, ACHL; Edeline Mitton, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Third Prize winners $$25 Amazon gift cards) — Joanne Wise, University at Albany School of Public Health; Whitney Smalley-Freed, Precise Medical Writing; Greg Paladino, ACHL; Amanda Glazar, Postgraduate Institute for Medicine; Amanda Jamrogiewicz, Cardiometabolic Health Congress; Allyson Baer, ASCO; Caroline Pardo, Prime Education; Kristi English, MD Anderson

Now you know who to hit up for a loan.