Program Manager Power Ballad

Being a child of the ’80s, there are few things that I enjoy more than a good hair metal power ballad. The spandex, the hair, the guitar solos, the five-second screech — it all combines into a ball of cheesy goodness. Let’s do a quick Top 5 Hair Metal Power Ballads, shall we?

(In case you are baffled by the term “hair metal,” I think this picture of the band Poison sums it up pretty well.)

5. Guns N’ Roses – Patience

4. Skid Row – I Remember You

3. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

2. Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

1. Warrant – Heaven

The key with any top notch power ballad is to not let the plaintive wailing turn into whining. Nobody likes a whiner. White Lion’s When the Children Cry is a prime example of wailing turning to whining. It has the hair, the clothes, the soaring guitar riffs — but when the chorus kicks in, lead singer Mike Tramp’s vocals remind me of when my kids were little and cried about going to bed. It’s a little like nails on a chalkboard.

In an effort to avoid becoming the White Lion of the CME world, I’d like to offer a very cordial and pleasant reminder that today is the last day for you to recommend a program manager for our Program Managers: We Get the Job Done! session at CMEpalooza Fall on October 14. We have had a nice response so far, but welcome anyone else who has someone you would like to suggest. Just follow this link to read about it and complete the form.

And if anyone has a favorite power ballad you would like to add to my list above, please feel free to let me know in the comments. I know there are some closet Stryper, Winger, and Kix fans out there. Put on your acid-washed jean jacket with the Mötley Crüe patch and join in!


Recommend A Program Manager (Please?)

The planning for CMEpalooza Fall on Wednesday, October 14 is well underway, and to the amazement of the entire CMEpalooza staff, I manged to finalize the moderators for all of the sessions I am running before Scott finalized his. This is truly a momentous occasion as it is perhaps the first time it has happened since the very first palooza Scott and I did back in the fall of 2014.  For those of you wondering if we really make this a competition, I tell you the same thing I tell my wife whenever she asks me the same question: Everything is a competition. Sometimes I just don’t tell you.

(note from Scott: I actually have had my moderators in place for 6 weeks. I just didn’t say anything to Derek. The guy needed a win. I am tired of hearing the same story over and over about how his 7th-grade basketball team won the state CYO championship).

One of the sessions I am particularly excited about is one that comes directly from a suggestion we received on our most recent post-CMEpalooza survey: Program Managers: We Get the Job Done! As you can probably infer from the title, the session will be focused on providing participants with a number of program management tips, best practices, workflows, etc., that program managers (heretofore abbreviated to “PMs” for convenience. Also because I’m never sure if it should be “program” or “project” manager, and this covers both bases) of all levels can utilize.

Christina Hosmer-Gallo, Senior Vice President of Educational Development at Med Learning Group, will be moderating the session, and we are hoping to have a panel of experienced program managers joining in on the conversation. Here is our current conundrum: PMs are often the behind-the-scenes kinds of folks who don’t get a lot of exposure to the broader CME community. So we don’t really know a lot of the ones who are really, really good at what they do (and preferably aren’t camera shy).

So what’s the solution? Well, you are, my good friend. As part of the process for putting the panel together, Christina and I would love to get some recommendations from the CME community for PMs you have worked with who would potentially be a good fit for this session. It can be someone you have worked with in a partnership, someone who works for your organization, or someone you talked to at a conference and thought was really smart. Or you can recommend yourself — we don’t mind!

You can use the form below to submit your recommendation. We will leave it up for a week and make the deadline the end of the day on Monday, July 27. We will take another week to review the recommendations and then reach out to the individuals we think will make the best panel (our goal is to have a panel of 3 or 4). Make sense?

If for any reason you prefer to email me rather than fill out the form below, you can send your recommendation to

We Need to Have a Chat About CMEpalooza — Part III

Hey gang! Derek here. I wanted to have a little chat with all of you about CMEpalooza (Yes, again. I originally posted this in 2017, then again in 2018, but some people never learn.) Not the actual Fall event, mind you. Until we have the agenda totally set (we’re working on it), we don’t have much more to tell you about it, though Scott will undoubtedly have an update on our intern search soon (note from Scott: He’s right. I will).

No, what I wanted to chat about today is the continuation of a disturbing trend, and one that I want to try and bring to an end. I’m here to talk to you about the word “CMEpalooza.”

Here’s the thing — it’s”CMEpalooza.” It’s not “CMEPalooza” or “CMEPALOOZA” or “CMEpallooza” or…(ugh)…”CME palooza.” It’s one word with the first three letters capitalized. It’s a mash up of “CME” and “palooza.” It’s a palooza of CME. It’s CMEpalooza.

In one of the first emails Scott sent me when we first started working on CMEpalooza together, he referred to it as “CMEPalooza.” I responded to him with a threat of fisticuffs if ever he spelled it that way again. It’s one of the few arguments I’ve ever won with him. To be fair, most of our arguments rarely extend beyond this exchange:

Me: Hey, should we try this?
Scott: No.
Me: Why not?
Scott: Because it’s dumb.
Me: Fair point.

Nonetheless, winning this argument was no great feat. Still, I even had “CMEpalooza” t-shirts made. See?


As someone who has his name misspelled more often than it is spelled correctly (Derek, Derik, Derrick, Dereck, Derick, Darek, Darik, Deric, Derk), I am perhaps a little oversensitive to the incorrect spellings. Still, CMEpalooza is my baby and a little piece of me dies inside every time I get an email asking me a question about “CME palooza.”

The moral of the story is this: it’s “CMEpalooza.” All one word, no capital “P.” The next person to write it wrong gets banned. From something. Not quite sure what, but I’ll figure it out.

When They Zig, We Zag

Back in ancient times, a wise man once said: “Why do we pay lots of money to go to conferences when we could stay at home in our comfy clothes and do the same thing much cheaper?”

That wise man was me (and by “wise” I mean “lazy and bored”) and the year was 2014 (Ahh, 2014. Back in the days when we did crazy things like leave the house and give random strangers high-fives. Such an innocent time.) CMEpalooza was born, and maybe there were other virtual conferences around then, but I certainly wasn’t aware of them. I don’t say that to brag – it seemed like sort of a silly idea at the time.

Fast forward six years and virtual conferences are now everywhere. Was CMEpalooza a trendsetter that made everyone jealous so they decided to copy our idea? As much as I’d like to claim imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, clearly the coronavirus deserves all due credit for the surge in online meetings. We were just lucky enough to stumble onto the idea a few years ahead of time.

As Scott mentioned earlier in the week, we have started the planning process for CMEpalooza Fall (happening on Wednesday, October 14), and I wanted to share with you a few updates we are making to help keep us on the cutting edge. Like a wide receiver sprinting downfield, we at CMEpalooza have looked over our shoulder, seen the cornerback closing in, and made our move. We are going old school.

That’s right, the original virtual conference is going audio-only! Instead of video conferencing, we are switching to the old teleconference format you grew to love in the early aughts. It’s going to be great! Approximately 300 people on a teleconference with beeping and booping every time someone calls in or hangs-up. During the Q&A time, we will open the line for anyone to talk so that there will be a long period of silence and then a cacophony to rival the Tower of Babel as everyone asks a question at the same time. Just think of the fond memories it will dredge up.

Also, we will be shutting down the blog and transferring everything over to Google+ and MySpace. Despite going old school, Scott and I still believe that social media is a vital cog in our outreach to the CE community. TikTok is the hot social network of 2020, but the TikTok Teens aren’t really our key demographic, you know? We think these two platforms will really help us reach our target audience.

I know these changes might seem a bit drastic, but I really think that nostalgia-conferencing is the next big thing, and we are ready to jump on it. If anyone has any questions or ideas you want to discuss with me, just hit me up on my beeper. The number is 267-99-…hold on.



OK, I have just been informed that MySpace is now myspace and barely functional and Google+ is…well…extinct. Shoot, that really puts a crimp in our promotional strategy. Ugh, this is going to take more planning than I expected. Sigh…I guess we will just have to go back to the old video conference format for the time being.

Sorry to disappoint you all. It looks like nostalgia-conferencing will have to wait for another time…

(Note from Scott: Please, someone save me from Derek’s flashbacks to the “good old past” and fill out an application to be our Fall intern. It’ll be fun. Maybe.)

Where Do I Watch CMEpalooza Spring?

Where do I watch CMEpalooza Spring?
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 “Basketball” by Kurtis Blow 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 “Basketball” by Kurtis Blow at full volume while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza at home?

Can I watch CMEpalooza at the office?
No! Stay home!

Can I watch CMEpalooza in a conference room with 150 other people?
No! Stay home!

Can I watch CMEpalooza while at a coffee shop?
That depends. Do you own your own coffee shop and will you be watching by yourself? If no, then…No! Stay home!

Can I watch CMEpalooza at home with my kids?
I don’t know. Let’s ask them.

Yeah, maybe not.

Do I have to pre-register or register?

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, stand outside your bedroom window (at least 50 feet away, to be safe and all), and recreate the John Cusack boombox scene from Say Anything.

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 Spring 2020, 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 of the presenters?
Good question. There are two ways you can ask questions:

  1. Send a text to the Peer Audience 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.

Will I be offended by anything during CMEpalooza?
Are you offended by Sam Spade-esque, gumshoe detective, film noir satire that includes words like “dame” and “yokel”? If yes, then I suggest avoiding the Jake Powers session at 3 p.m. ET. It’s OK, really, you don’t have to watch it. Go grab a coffee and snack and come back for the 4 p.m. session. We’ll still be here.

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 co-worker who is a real crackerjack on the interwebs. Here she is hard at work, writing our latest blog post.


Oops, I Haiku’ed Again – It’s CMEpalooza Haiku!

palooza haiku
oopsie i did it again
scott’s favorite post

coming up next week
cmepalooza spring
thank god it’s online

9 AM ET – How Should the CE Industry Respond to a Novel Healthcare Crisis?

health crises of our lifetime
how can we respond?

10 AM ET – We Can Do It! Getting Change-Ready Ahead of the ACCME’s Updates to the Standards for Commercial Support

SCS updates
can we can do it!? (yes we can)
people get ready

11 AM ET – Shiny Outcomes People

tiny little homes
and they all look just the same
sound like your outcomes?

Noon ET – The Intersection Between Information, Knowledge, and Practice

sometimes to adapt
slow and steady wins the race
good for us old folks

1 PM ET – Rebuilding It Better? Stronger? Faster? Moving Innovation Forward in CE Redesign

rebuild CE like
the six million dollar man
just hire lee majors

2 PM ET – Grant Request Rock!

conjunction junction
how do grant requests function?
these guys will tell you

3 PM ET – Jake Powers, CME Detective, Episode 2: Certification at Elevation – The Mile High Mysteries

hardboiled CE
and a slug of cheap whiskey
jake powers is back

4 PM ET – Common/Not-So-Common Case Conundrums in CME

common conundrum
would be so very humdrum
when does the fun come?


three precious metals
but if you want a haiku
it’s gold or silver


haiku can be hard
when you don’t know how to say

they can’t stay away
Academic CME
back for a third time

oh phil talamo
president of PER
cool video bro


it’s PeerAudience
but a group of seaside fans
is PierAudience

why did we combine
CCO and PCE?
it’s a partnership

the best name for a
medical themed escape room?
a Medscape room duh

Important CMEpalooza Updates!

Ehhhhh…the updates aren’t really that important, but I figured that if I said they were important and used an exclamation mark, more people would click and read. No, no, I am not a marketing professional…I just play one on the Internet.

That’s about all I have for an opener. You’re busy. I’m busy. Let’s get right to the updates.

Update #1
We have updated the agenda with information about our opening breakfast session sponsored by AcademicCME: How Should the CE Industry Respond to a Novel Healthcare Crisis? COVID-19 is obviously something that is having a major impact on all of our lives, both personally and professionally. Our hope is that this session can help make some sense of how the CME community can respond.

Speaking of the coronavirus, a local business near my home has a Window of Hope where they display pictures from neighborhood kids about their hopes for the future. I think 3-year-old Jack might be on to something here. Seems like as good a plan as any.

Scott wants me to remind everyone that the CMonopolE (née CMEopoly) sponsor event thingy ends tomorrow, so get your entry in ASAP. You can read all the important stuff here…and by important I mean that you can win a $100 Amazon gift card.

Update #3 is still a secret and I can’t actually tell you what it is (once again: marketing genius!), but we have something cooking for next week that we hope you will find helpful. I don’t want to say too much until we have all of the details finalized, but let’s just say that an old CMEpalooza brainchild may be making an unexpected return. More details to come! (<– building suspense! I am available for marketing consultations.)

A Day In the Life of a WFHer

After reading Scott and Katie’s eloquent posts from the past few days, I was left to wonder what I can do to make myself useful. Then, while scrolling through Facebook last night and reading the reactions from all my friends and family new to working from home (heretofore referred to as “WFH”), it occurred to me that maybe I could put my 8+ years of WFH experience to use by sharing some tricks and tips I have picked up along the way.

I started to write that up, but, honestly…it was pretty boring and not that true to reality. Instead, I thought I would share with you a typical (work) day in the life of an experienced WFHer. It’s actually not that typical since everyone else in my family is also home right now thanks to social distancing but just play along.

8:30 a.m.
(NOTE: Spare me the “You start your day at 8:30??” mockery. I spent years getting to an office at the crack of dawn…and then I got laid off. I start my day at a reasonable hour now.)

Ascend the stairs to my office on the 3rd floor, 2nd cup of coffee in one hand, 24 oz lime green Hydro Flask in the other.

Announce out loud, “I’m starting work now!”

Ignore office chair and desk and sit in easy chair instead (You don’t have an easy chair in your office? Get one. For…research purposes. Sure.)

Dog follows me upstairs, stops for a few head scratches, then continues into bedroom for her morning nap on the bed. She is technically not allowed on the bed, but we seem to have forgotten to tell her that.

Flip on SportsCenter (You don’t have a TV in your office?? Get one. Again, more research purposes.). I use it, um, for background noise while going through email. So. Much. Email.

Tom Brady is going to the Bucs??? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


9:15 a.m.
Turn off the TV and head back downstairs to resolve any personal hygiene issues. This maybe includes a shower. Probably not.

Attempt to ignore anyone in the house who tries to distract me along the way.

9:25 a.m.
Walk back upstairs, stopping off in son’s room on the 2nd floor. He is, of course, still in bed.

Me: “Did you see Tom Brady is going to the Bucs?”

Him: “Yeah.” (This is pretty wordy for him.)


(note from Scott: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!)

9:30 a.m.
Turn off the TV, gaze longingly at easy chair, but instead sit in my office chair at the desk. Continue answering email or begin working on high priority projects for the day.

Turn on music.

There is some strategy involved in my musical selection. If I am doing something where I need maximum focus and concentration – like reading grant proposals – then I will listen to something relaxing and without words (Miles Davis, John Coltrane) or with words I can’t understand (Sigur Ros, they sing in Icelandic.) If it’s something that takes less brain power – like entering scores into a spreadsheet – then I listen to something peppier (I won’t give any examples because everyone will just laugh at my inclination towards Dad Rock.) And if I’m doing something really mind numbing – like reading another one of Scott’s emails – then I really crank up the volume and listen to something like Rage Against the Machine or the Melvins.

10 a.m.
The cat saunters in.

He scratches at the easy chair, knocks over some papers, tries to eat a plant, and then insists on laying on the keyboard while I’m working.

He is basically just a big a-hole (sorry, I know this is a family website.)

Eventually he climbs down onto my lap, curls up, purrs, and falls asleep. All is forgiven.

10:30 a.m.
Snack time. God, I love snack time.

10:40 a.m.
On the way back from the kitchen, stop in each kid’s room to check on them.

They are both on a device of some sort, supposedly doing homework. It’s hard to tell anymore.

Neither one seems particularly thrilled to see me, so I move back up to my office.

Resume working.

11 a.m.
Conference call.

Whenever possible, I try to schedule my calls for 11 a.m. It’s my best time for a call. I finally feel awake enough to engage with other humans on an intelligent level, but lunch is right around the corner so the call can’t go too excessively long.

Sadly, it’s a rare day when I only have one call, so it really doesn’t matter.

Could this call have been an email? Of course.

11:30 a.m.
The dog finally climbs out of bed and makes her way back into my office, sticking her head in the trashcan.

She begins stretching, a sure sign she is ready to go out.

Yell down the stairs for someone to take the dog out. No response.

Stomp down the steps mumbling under my breath about being the only one working and still have to take the dog out.

11:45 a.m.
Ignore first email of the day from Scott.

Lunchtime! God, I love lunchtime.

My wife joins me for lunch and we chat. I have no idea where the kids are.

1-3 p.m.
Peak productivity, baby!

I am cranking out work like one of those cheesy manufacturing movies we used to watch in school that shows how pencils are made or something.

I am a well-oiled machine.

Nothing can stop me!

3 p.m.
The machine is out of oil.

I keep reading the same sentence over and over.

Time for coffee.

3:01 p.m.
Coffee time! God, I love coffee time.

Walking down the steps, I hold out a small hope that someone has made coffee for their dear old dad.

No one has.

3:30 p.m.
Ignore 2nd email from Scott asking why I am ignoring his first email.

4 p.m.
Work email has finally lightened up. Time to respond to Scott…

(note from Scott: Derek spent his Wednesday afternoon sending me play-by-play updates every 5 minutes from Game 2 of the 1980 NLCS between the Phillies and Astros. He was apparently watching this on his “research” TV while “working.” I mean, this was a game from 40 years ago! But yeah, I’m the one who overindulges in meaningless emails…) (note from Derek: I would deny this if it were not true.)

4:01 p.m.
Flood of work email comes pouring in. It never fails.

4:45 p.m.
The other cat walks into the office with a confused look on her face.

She is not an a-hole like the first cat, but is dumb as a brick.

She rarely comes up to the 3rd floor and is probably just lost.

She is riveted by a rubber band under the desk.

5 p.m.
I have lost all focus and the dog is whining to be let out. Again.

Work day over.





CMEpalooza is Still April 15

In a secret location somewhere in northwest Philadelphia, Derek and Scott meet to discuss Derek’s suggestion to delay CMEpalooza by a few weeks.

Derek: [sips coffee]

Scott: [strums fingers on table]

Derek: [sips more coffee]

Scott: [sighs deeply]

Derek: [sips even more coffee]

Scott: [glares]

Derek: [clears throat] “So-”


Derek: [nodding] “Fair poi-”

Scott: [slams door on way out] [peels out in driveway]

CMEpalooza is still on tap for Wednesday, April 15. We don’t anticipate that changing. Take care, everyone.