The Alliance Conference by the Numbers

OK, yes, I realize another blog post about the Alliance conference two weeks after its conclusion isn’t exactly timely, but my Christmas break was kind of crappy so I decided to treat myself to a few extra days in northern California after the conference, cruising around Sonoma Valley with friends and family, gazing at big trees, and drinking too much wine. Scott wrote something while I was away, then we wanted to introduce everyone to Katie, and now here we are. I’m certainly not going to let a great good OK idea for a blog post go to waste, so better late than never!

Number of Alliance conferences I have attended: 16 (I started going in 2002 and have only missed a couple, so I think that number is correct)

Number of Alliance conferences I have attended in San Francisco: 6 (or 7, it’s somewhere around there)

Number of scheduled meetings I had at this year’s conference: 14 (one of the true miracles of the conference is that despite my complete befuddlement with scheduling meetings while dealing with the ET/PT time change, I somehow never double-booked myself. Not all heroes wear capes…)

Number of sessions I attended at this year’s conference: um…2.5 (hey, I had a lot of meetings!)

Number of times I strolled down Mission Street to Blue Bottle Coffee: 4 (this has nothing to do with the number of sessions I attended)

Number of New Orleans cold brews I purchased at Blue Bottle Coffee: 3 (the best cold brew I have ever had)

Number of times I walked to City Lights Bookstore: 2 (one of my favorite bookstores in the country)

Number of books purchased at City Lights Bookstore: (Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz, The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers, and Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg)

Number of CME-related parodies of Howl I wrote on my old blog: 1 (And you thought I was crazy writing a story about a CME detective. Just wait until I update and re-post my Google Hangouts themed ghost story. You think I’m kidding…)

Number of books I swapped at Integrity CE’s exhibit booth (a very cool idea): 3 given (The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, and City of Thieves by David Benioff) , 1 taken (Milkman by Anna Burns)

Number of times I listed books in this blog post just because I know it will annoy Scott: 2 (I’m laughing just thinking about him reading this and yelling “Nobody cares!” <insert laugh-crying emoji>)

(NOTE FROM SCOTT: He’s right. It annoyed me.)

Number of times I skipped a reception at this year’s conference to go to a sports bar and watch the Sixers beat the Boston Celtics: 1 (totally worth it!)

Number of times I told the person I was watching the game with that the Sixers were definitely going to lose (they won): 5 (at least, probably more)

Number of meetings at the Alliance conference Scott and I had with Katie the Intern: 1

Number of times I wondered if Katie could now do all my CMEpalooza work for me: How do you insert the infinity sign in WordPress?

Number of people I knew from CMEpalooza but met in person for the first time at this year’s Alliance conference and didn’t immediately recognize because I realized I had only ever seen them from the chest up and they were taller/shorter than I realized: 3

Number of people I met through attending the Alliance conference over the years who I now call “friend”: too many to count (seeing old friends is my favorite part of going to the Alliance conference every year)

 

 

Introducing Our CMEpalooza Spring Intern!

A few weeks ago, we announced that we were going to be bringing a new voice into CMEpalooza by opening up applications for a CMEpalooza Spring intern. We were surprised and humbled by the number of applicants we received – let’s face it, the fact that anyone would voluntarily want to work alongside us is kind of surprising.

Anyway, after a rigorous review and interview process, we selected Katie O’Connell, a senior CME event coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as our Spring 2020 intern. God help her.

Special note: This has been edited by Scott for “accuracy.” Perhaps you’ll be able to figure that out.

Additional Special note (from Derek): All credit to Scott for coming up with the CMEpalooza intern idea, though I do wonder if this is part of his secret master plan to find a replacement for me. He’ll miss my haikus when I’m gone…

Hello CMEpalooza!

Katie O’Connell here reporting for her FIRST EVER CMEpalooza post! Scott, I’m still honored and excited that I was chosen, but now that this is becoming a reality, I am extremely nervous. My hands are shaking so much I just typed “RYXHYJLHG UYTHF” instead of “Scott is funnier than Derek.”

At the recently completed Alliance meeting, Megan Swartz spoke to the question of “How did I get here?” during her acceptance speech for the Frances M. Maitland Memorial Mentorship Lecture and Award (Congratulations again, Megan!!), so I figured I’d start out by answering that question.

So how did I get here?

It was a cold, snowy winter morning in the Bronx, NY, on Jan. 16 (let’s ignore the year, shall we?). The doctors told my mom on Jan. 15 to “Enjoy your weekend. There is no way the baby is coming early.” But then, SURPRISE. She took me home to a place that seemed huge as I was growing up (a recent visit proved otherwise). I enjoyed Irish dancing, karate, basketball, and softball growing up.

Oh, wait, you don’t really care how I actually got here as a person on this planet? You just want to want to know how I got here, like, how I ended up in CME. OK, fine, let’s jump forward to my CME journey.

As with many of us in this field, I ended up in CME not by choice but by accident. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and started working at a healthcare staffing agency. I joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2014 where I worked in the human recourses department as an onboarding coordinator. It wasn’t long before I found the job to be repetitive and sought out new challenges. Sensing my boredom, the Vice President of Human Resources asked me if I was interested in helping out the CME department with a project. That project turned into a new career.

So here I am 3.5 years later, where almost every day I learn something new, and now I get the opportunity to learn and engage my peers in a whole new outlet that I’m excited and nervous about (ugh, I meant to write “Scott is smarter than Derek” and it came out “GHRFJKK GRUYKIG NHTDJK”).

I enjoy reading the CMEpalooza posts and watching the videos not just because they add laughter to my day but because I always take something away from them. I had read the post about the CMEpalooza intern and thought that would be new and exciting, but shrugged it off at first. Then I woke up the morning of the deadline thinking about the CMEpalooza intern opportunity and thought, “What do I have to lose? They probably won’t pick you anyway.” Well, to my shock, they did! Thank you, Scott and Derek, for the opportunity. I hope to live up to everyone’s expectation of the first ever CME Spring Intern. If anyone wants to share what those expectation are, please do!  I’ll try my best to be little bit funny and bring AHA moments to your day.

Choose Your Own (Alliance) Adventure – 2020

Well, another Alliance annual conference is upon us, though a bit earlier this year. I’m still slogging my way through all the email that built up over the holidays, just in time to leave for a few more days and get even more email. The solution to this problem is obvious: ban email. Who’s with me??

For those of you unable to attend the annual conference this year, we at CMEpalooza are here to help. While your colleagues are holed up in a conference room somewhere in San Francisco, why not take one day this week to create your own personal annual conference?

We’ve recently updated the CMEpalooza Archive page to include all of the sessions from CMEpalooza Fall 2019, and there are now over 100(!) different (free) educational sessions for you to choose from. You can easily put together a whole week’s worth of faux-annual conference days if you want to (Don’t do that. You have better things to do with your time, like writing an essay explaining why Hot Wheels are superior to Matchbox cars.)

To help get you started, I’ve taken the liberty of attempting to re-create a typical day at the Alliance conference, but using archived CMEpalooza sessions for the agenda. These are just suggested sessions; feel free to substitute in any of the other sessions and choose your own annual conference adventure.

The night before: Drink a few too many adult beverages (I recommend a Manhattan with Bulleit Rye) and stay up a minimum of two hours past your usual bedtime. This is a critical step in preparing for the next day’s learning experience. Also, set out your running clothes so you are ready for an early morning run before the conference starts.

6:00 a.m. (everyone else): Turn off your alarm and go back to sleep. Curse yourself for drinking too much and/or going to bed too late. Scowl at the waiting running clothes mocking you from their place on the shelf.

Breakfast: Get out of bed and walk to the coffee shop around the corner to eat breakfast. Remind yourself of the promise you made to eat healthier this year. Order a breakfast sandwich and mocha anyway. Pat yourself on the back for getting your bacon, egg, and cheese on a whole grain bagel.

9:00 a.m. Keynote: Back to the Future (of CME)
What better way to kick off your conference than with a look back at the future of CME?

10:00 a.m. Keynote Discussion: Hop on the Twitters and share your thoughts on the keynote address using the #CMEpalooza hashtag. Send an email to one of your colleagues or to Scott with your key takeaways and ask for their opinion. I’m busy, remember.

Break: Grab an overbrewed coffee and tell anyone around (including your pets) that you are going to your room to check email. Turn on the TV and watch SportsCenter instead.

11:00 a.m. Plenary Session: Can You Define and Articulate the Value of Your Education?
Dwindling budgets, inconsistent results, lack of organizational support for IME, lack of standardized reporting, lack of consistent operational definitions for learners, and many, many more… these represent a few of the many reasons why deciding which grant to support is becoming ever more critical for our IME stakeholders. A “failed” educational program is not a luxury most supporters can afford. Through interactive panel discussions, members of the MEC and IME communities discuss best practices,take viewer questions, and hear examples on the following topics:

  1. Can we define value as a return on educational investment? (NOT ROI)
  2. Beyond pre/post, how can providers better define educational outcomes in terms of the value of the education to the patient, the clinician learners, the provider, and the supporter?
  3. How can IME build a better story that demonstrates the value of educational investments by extracting outcomes data from a myriad of reporting styles?
  4. Building a better grant – how can providers help IME committees see the potential value of the education through the grant request?
  5. For IME, what elements should committees look for in a grant request that reduce risk, and which are red flags?
  6. How can supporters share return on educational investment with their respective internal teams (medical affairs, commercial, etc.)?
  7. When is the appropriate time to report outcomes?

Lunch: To really recreate the conference experience, go gaze in your refrigerator at the free food available to you. Decide you don’t like any of the options provided because they either don’t appeal to you or aren’t healthy enough. Go out to eat at the closest restaurant to you with the intention of ordering a salad and glass of water. Order a hamburger and fries instead. For the sake of authenticity, pay the confused waitress $45 for the food.

1:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Nobody Puts Outcomes in the Corner
It’s been more than 10 years since Don Moore’s pivotal article on outcomes levels was released, revolutionizing the CME industry’s thinking and approach to outcomes. But has Moore put us in a corner? Rather than being creative with our approach to measuring outcomes, we are stuck in a pyramid of levels that pushes us to try to collect and analyze data that might not be ideal for all educational interventions. This session will include representatives from pharma, medical education companies, and academia as they discuss the hot topic of Level 5 outcomes and if and where it fits into education.

The session will begin with a focus on aligning the outcomes measure to meet the identified gaps and goals of the program along with the preferences of the commercial supporter, as well as share barriers and problems with standard performance-level outcomes. The second half of the session will focus on the importance of reporting to stakeholder and what elements of outcomes (Moore’s, TELMS, others) are of most value to whom. Members of the panel will use case studies and experience to describe creative solutions to assessing performance change.

Break: Click over to the Exhibit Hall (ie, Sponsor page) and gaze in amazement around the companies who have signed up for CMEpalooza Spring 2020 so far (“Geez, I wonder how we could be like them”). In order to replicate the true exhibit hall experience, invite a family member/colleague/neighbor/pet to come into the room and then avoid making eye contact while you read more about the sponsors. After you’re done, tell them you need to check email, but go on Facebook instead and update your status (“OMG I am at the BEST conf EVERRRRRRR!!! lol YOLO, amirite???”)

3:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Jake Powers, CME Detective – Accreditation with Complications
The cigarette smoke rises slowly. The bourbon goes down easily. A dame raps incessantly on my door. She has a problem. A CME problem, of course. That’s why people come to me. They have problems and I fix them. I’m Jake Powers, the world’s only CME Detective.

The gritty underbelly of continuing medical education awaits me, where shadowy corners hide compliance issues and guidelines are always just around the corner. Care to join me? You sure you can handle it? Ready to solve some CME mysteries?

Yes? Good. Then take a shot of courage and grab your fedora and trench coat. We’ve got work to do. The CME industry needs us.

Reception: Invite a bunch of people over to your house for drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. As they come in the door, ask each person for I.D. in order to verify it is the person you invited. Give them each two tickets they can redeem for drinks and glare at them if they ask for another. Make sure you have a giant cheese ball, because a reception just isn’t a reception without a cheese ball. Walk around for 10 minutes, pretend to get an urgent phone call, and stride quickly out the door with the phone to your ear. Leave. Hopefully, when you come back home in 2 hours, everyone will have left for the lobby bar at the nearest hotel.

 

A Brief Thank You and Apology

Another CMEpalooza has come and gone and Scott and I are so thankful and appreciative for everyone who participated, whether as a faculty member or as a participant. We could not — would not — do it without all of your support and it is a thrill for us to see the positive response CMEpalooza continues to get. Now, we need a few days/weeks/months to recover, recharge, and do it all over again!

I also want to take a moment to address a comment that was made on the CMEpalooza survey that we ask participants to complete. The comment stated that the “distracted boyfriend” meme I posted yesterday morning to promote CMEpalooza Day was “inappropriate and objectified women” and that we should apologize.

They are correct. I am the one who posted it and it was a bad judgement call by me. I have removed it and offer my sincere apologies to all. If anyone cares to discuss it or anything else related to CMEpalooza, you are welcome to send me a direct email at thecmeguy@gmail.com. Thank you.

Where Do I Watch CMEpalooza Fall?

Where do I watch CMEpalooza Fall?
You watch it on the LIVE page.

Will people be able to hear me on the broadcast?
No. You are not on the broadcast. You are only watching a video feed of the broadcast. You can play It’s Raining Tacos at full volume and no one will hear you except your neighbors, who might call the police, who might interrupt you while watching CMEpalooza. So, don’t play It’s Raining Tacos at full volume while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza at the office?
Yes.

Can I watch CMEpalooza at home?
Yes.

Can I watch CMEpalooza in a conference room with 150 other people?
Please do.

Can I watch CMEpalooza while at a coffee shop?
That depends. Will you be drinking a skinny latte while watching? If yes, then no, you may not watch CMEpalooza Fall while at a coffee shop.

Can I watch CMEpalooza with the Real Housewives of New York?
I don’t know. Let’s ask them.

I guess they are busy.

Do I have to pre-register or register?
Nope.

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza? I love paying registration fees.

No. You don’t have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza.

Do I have to take a survey afterward?
Well, you don’t have to, but it would be nice if you did. It’s only seven questions and shouldn’t take you more than 60 seconds. If it takes you more than 60 seconds, Scott will come to your house and perform Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry on the accordion.

Can I get a certificate for watching CMEpalooza?
Actually, yes. Well, kind of. We’re not accredited or certified or anything like that, and we have no way of verifying whether you actually watched any of these sessions or not. But if you want a certificate of completion that you can use to self-report participation in CMEpalooza Fall 2019, here you go. I’ll also post it on the LIVE page tomorrow. Who knows, maybe these certificates will be worth something 2,000 years from now.

How do I ask questions to the presenters?
Good question. There are two ways you can ask questions:

  1. Send a text to the CMEpalooza text line at 267-666-0CME (0263)
  2. Tweet a question using the #CMEpalooza hashtag

We try to get to as many questions as we can throughout each presentation.

Do I have to watch all the sessions?
YES! No. Watch what interests you.

Will the sound quality for each presenter be crystal clear with consistent volume and no glitches?
No. Will it be pretty good for most presenters? Yes. There will be some who sound better than others. There may be a few glitches and hiccups. That’s just how it goes with a free conference where presenters volunteer their time and use their own equipment. Some people aren’t comfortable doing a presentation while wearing headphones and a mic, so we don’t force them to use it. We do the best that we can with what we have available to us.

What if I’m busy during the day of the live broadcast?
All the sessions will be archived on the website, probably within 15 minutes of the conclusion of each session. How are we able to do it so fast? We have a new intern who is a real crackerjack on the interwebs. Here he is hard at work, writing our latest blog post.

 

Of Course We Are Doing It Again: It’s CMEpalooza Haiku!

palooza haiku
of course we did it again
you know you love it

coming in one week
cmepalooza fall
be there or be square

9 AM ET – Creating a Community of Care Through Innovative Education, Outcomes and Point-of-Care Tools

great kick-off session
not great is that I forgot
the oxford comma

10 AM ET – You Can’t Do That in CME!

my dad always said
never say “I can’t do that”
turn can’t into can

11 AM ET – Grants Hotline

you people sure have
a whole bunch of grants questions
grants hotline can help

Noon ET – Lunch

first ever lunch break
or breakfast or morning snack
east coast bias? yes

1 PM ET – Back to the Future (of CME)

a look at the past
how did our predictions do?
then predict again

2 PM ET – CME Fads: Gone for Good or Coming Back Around?

gamification
the mullet of CME?
really makes you think

3 PM ET – Jake Powers, CME Detective – Accreditation with Complications

this might be the best
or the most ridiculous
thing I ever wrote

4 PM ET – The Great, Big, Play at Home in Your Jammies CME Quiz

you can win money
with your CME knowledge
what a world this is

Sponsors

haikus for sponsors
just one of the many perks
though not a great one

Gold

first time gold sponsor
cool cats from Med Learning Group
peep their video

repeat gold sponsor
Academic CME
thanks for the lunch break

Silver

i am very close
to Prova Education
five miles from home

PER has been
around since the mid-90’s
here’s video proof

and now for a group
that needs no introduction
we all know Medscape 

it’s not in-fo-graphed
try four syllables not three
say “in-fo-graph-ed

HME — short for
Haymarket Medical Ed
with MyCME

lots of global groups
Global Education Group
sole silver sponsor

need education
that has creative concepts?
check out CEC

the lower case “i”
in ASiM CE
is a mystery

Last Chance for CMEpalooza Bingo!!

Scott tells me I am supposed to remind everyone about the CMEpalooza Bingo!! thing, so, fine. All the forms you need to play can be accessed by clicking on this link and you can get all the details on how to play by looking at Monday’s blog post. Entries are due this Sunday evening for some reason that makes zero sense to me, but whatever. I’m sure Scott has a good reason for it [eye roll]. But, you can win some cash money, so get those forms in soon!

OK, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the main reason for this blog post, which is to announce a totally original idea for a new game that I created all by myself. I call it CMEpalooza Day Bingo!!!

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that this sounds very similar to CMEpalooza Bingo!! and this will be very confusing. I assure you that CMEpalooza Bingo!! and CMEpalooza Day Bingo!!! are very different. For starters, I added the word “Day” and an extra exclamation mark to the title to make sure it was obvious which is which.

Second, you will not win any money in CMEpalooza Day Bingo!!! or any other prize. The enjoyment of participating will be prize enough! Also, Scott wouldn’t give me any money 😦

Lastly, CMEpalooza Day Bingo!!! is designed for you to play on the day of CMEpalooza (Wednesday, October 16). You now see the cleverness of the title, no? Just click here to print our your CMEpalooza Day Bingo!!! card and play along while watching all the sessions during CMEpalooza Fall. If you win, give yourself a hearty pat on the back, because we are all winners on CMEpalooza day!

The Powers of the Afternoon Sessions

I am compelled to point out to everyone that at 3 pm ET on the day of CMEpalooza Fall (October 16), there is going to be a session that is essentially a dramatization featuring a CME detective named Jake Powers. I am not making this up. This is an actual session that you will be able to watch live, as it happens. Here is a sample scene:

Eddie Malone looks up from forging signatures on an LOA for a CME program that occurred 2 months ago and glares at his partner-in-crime, Frank Falco, who is pacing a hole in the already threadbare burnt orange rug in their fifth-floor walk-up.

“Sit down, you friggin’ lunatic,” Eddie growls around his unlit Cuban. “You’re makin’ me seasick with all the back and forth. You want me to yack all over these papers?”

Frank glaces at Eddie with the uneasiness of a terrier after two bowls of water and throws himself into a ratty yellow Lay-Z-Boy, dirty stuffing trickling out of the split seams.

“We shouldn’t a dunnit, Eddie! We shouldn’t a dunnit! It was too risky, and they’re on to us. I know it! We shoulda just gave ’em the buffet dinner like we said we was!”

“Shut your yap, you dang fool. It’s the perfect crime. We say we’re havin’ dinner, get grant moneys for it, don’t have the dinner, pocket the moolah, and no one’s the wiser!”

Frank shakes his head and takes a slug straight from the half-empty bottle of Jim Beam he’s been cradling like a baby.

“Somebody’s gonna snitch.”

“Yeah, well, snitches get sti-“

A pounding on the front door causes Frank to drop the bottle, amber liquid gurgling between cracks in the decrepit floorboards. He looks wildly at Eddie, eyes wide with fear. Eddie holds up a finger to shush him and reaches for the top drawer of his desk.

“Who is it?” he barks out, slowly removing his cellphone from the desk drawer.

The gravely voice that answers sends a tremor from the top of Eddie’s greasy head to the base of his scoliosic spine.

“It’s Powers. Jake Powers. I’m a CME detective, and you two rats are coming with me.”

Eddie begins thumbing a number into his phone while Frank babbles incoherently into his hands.

“Powers,” Eddie mutters. “Why did it have to be Powers?”

OK, I totally made that up. I have no idea what they’re actually doing, but it’s still intriguing, right? I mean, c’mon, a CME detective? What could be better than that? (Don’t answer that.)

The point is – and the point Scott made with yesterday’s post – you should definitely try to tune in for the afternoon sessions during CMEpalooza Fall. All the sessions are going to to be great, but the last two of the day, I think, are particularly creative and fun. You won’t want to miss them.

As a side note, for anyone wondering where the heck the idea of a CME detective came from, I am somewhat chagrined to admit it comes from an unfinished story I wrote on my old blog back in 2011. A period of time when I clearly had too much time on my hands. But if you are a sucker for original source material, feel free to give it a read.

Last Day to Submit a Question For the Grants Hotline

Let’s talk about Dolly Parton for a minute.

You probably know that Dolly wrote “I Will Always Love You.” (Scott: No, we don’t)

You probably know that Dolly wrote “Jolene.” (Scott: What’s a “Jolene”?)

But did you know that Dolly wrote “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” on the same day? It’s true! That is a pretty amazing day. (Scott: Perhaps not as amazing as when I learned to whistle and blow a bubble on the same day, but I’ll give you this one)

You know what you could write that would make it an amazing day for you? You could write a question for our Grants Hotline!!

(Folks, this is the best I have at this point. After four blog posts asking for questions, I’m all out of ideas. Plus, I’m going to the Willie Nelson concert tonight, and I’m feeling a little distracted. Did you know that when Willie Nelson was writing the song “Crazy,” his first draft used the word “stupid” instead? This is also true! Willie is 86 years old and still touring…incredible. It’s probably because he owes the IRS millions in back taxes, but I digress…)

Today IS the last day to ask questions for our Grants Hotline. We have gotten several, but would love to have a few more. Once again, here is the form for you to submit. Deadline is whenever the Willie Nelson concert ends tonight!

Top 5 Reasons You Should Stop What You Are Doing and Submit a Question to the Grants Hotline

5. It’s a good excuse to get you out of that phone call that should have been an email
“Hey, Bob. Really sorry but I’m going to have to bail on our call this afternoon. I have a major project I’m working on, and the deadline is coming up soon. No, no, don’t reschedule just for me. You guys go ahead.”

4. You can use it as cover while adjusting your Fantasy Football lineup
Speaking of fantasy football, let me take a quick moment here to remind everyone that nobody else cares about your fantasy football team. You might think we are interested in hearing you debate about whether to use Patrick Mahomes or Gardner Minshew as your starting quarterback, but actually no. We don’t. Tough but true.

3. Make it a fun, team-building exercise!
Step 1: Rent one of those sweet 15-person passenger vans so everyone can squeeze in together (people love that)
Step 2: Take the whole gang to Applebees and order Appletinis for all!
Step 3: Over some kind of (probably fried) appetizer, ask everyone to think of a question for the Grants Hotline
Step 4: Best question wins a free Southern Apple Fritter!

2. What else are you doing right now that is more important?
Admit it, you’re right in the middle of a Facebook post about your fantasy football team, aren’t you? I knew it! 

1. We really really really really need more questions
We have received a few, but I would love to have a bunch more. Yes, you technically have until Friday to get your questions in, but why not just do it now and help me keep my blood pressure down? Here’s the form for you to use: