The Return of CMEpalooza Haiku

palooza haiku
one great day now split in two
check it out next week

10 AM ET – Not Another Outcomes Panel! (Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bar Graphs)

oh look! it’s outcomes
outcomes standardization
for you and for me

11 AM ET – Including Patients and Patient Advocacy Groups in Educational Planning & Delivery: How to Make It a “Win-Win”

what’s in it for me?
the patient advocate asks
find the answer here

Noon ET – Fear Not the Force: Twenty Predictions Five Years Later

so certain were you
go back, closer you must look
nerd alert this is

1 p.m. ET – CME Unicorn – Lessons from Silicon Valley and the Stage

are unicorns real?
my daughter says that they are
good enough for me

10 AM ET – Seeing It Both Ways

seeing it both ways
like a magic eye picture
purchased at Spencer’s

11 AM ET – IDEAS for developing effective digital interventions to change health behavior

have you ever said
huh, I have no idea?
here are some for you

Noon ET – Addressing Educational Needs Around Medicinal Cannabis: Implications for CME

goal: write a haiku
about cannabis sans jokes
mission accomplished

1 PM ETElevating our Educators: Practical Strategies for Improving Faculty Teaching Skills

gather ‘round and watch
teachers teaching teachers to
teach teachers to teach

Bonus haiku that I couldn’t resist after Monday night’s debacle

a sadness hovers
over the palooza team
the sixers have lost


Special ‘Trust the Process’ Offer From CMEpalooza

Hey, gang — it’s your old pal Derek here to tell you about a very special offer for CMEpalooza, coming up just around the corner on April 25-26. Before I tell you about our amazing new offer, though, let me first remind you to check out the agenda for CMEpalooza if you haven’t already done so. You can read about all the sessions on your own time, but I do want to once again point out that CMEpalooza is slightly different this year in that rather than one long full-day, it will be held over two short-days. Why? Don’t ask me. You guys are the ones who wanted to do it this way. I’m fascinated to see how it will play out.

Anyway, back to the special offer. We here at CMEpalooza are huge fans of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers (note from Scott: for the 90% who will understand little of the basketball-ese to come, just nod your head and play along. Humor the guy). You may recall a blog post that Scott wrote a few days back in which he recounted our attending a Sixers basketball game together. I believe he referred to me as the “most pessimistic ‘fan’ I have ever met.” Sadly, this is not untrue. I am not exactly delightful company when it comes to watching sporting events in which my favorite teams are playing, the Sixers in particular. The song Pancho & Lefty by Townes Van Zandt opens with lines that sums up my Sixers fandom pretty well:

Living on the road my friend,
Was gonna keep you free and clean
And now you wear your skin like iron,
And your breath as hard as kerosene

Despite my omnipresent pessimism, the team has done fantastically well this year. Like, unbelievably well, in fact. I’ve even caught myself thinking, “OK, I think they can probably win this one” before a few games. They are headed to the playoffs for the first time in years, have two of the top young players in the game, and the team’s unofficial slogan of “Trust the Process” has exploded into meme-worthy status. Even my bff Joel Embiid breaking his face didn’t slow them down as they are currently in the midst of a record-breaking 16-game winning streak to end the regular season. Everything is coming up Sixers!

In honor of the success of our beloved home team, the CMEpalooza crew is prepared to make our most amazing offer ever. As of this moment, registration for CMEpalooza is now…ABSOLUTELY FREE! Yes, you read that correctly: 100% free. This is a one-time offer*, so be sure to tune in on April 25 & 26 to take advantage of it. Trust me, it’s only because we are in such a good mood about the Sixers that we are doing this**. Normally, registration fees are quite expensive***. The only requirement to take advantage of this incredible offer is that you must play the video below and sing along at the top of your lungs.

Clap your hands everybody. Trust the Process.

*Not true. It’s always free.
**Also not true. We are in a good mood, but it’s always free.
***Again, not true. Never expensive. Always free.


Today’s the Day!

Big doings here in the City of Brotherly Love. I’m not sure if you are aware, but the local football team will be tossing the ol’ pigskin around the gridiron this coming Sunday in a little game called the Super Bowl. Eagles fans are known for our calm and reserved demeanor so I’m sure we’re all handling the excitement with dignity and class.

Let’s check in and see.

Ah, yes, just as expected.

More importantly, today is the deadline for submitting an abstract for a presentation at CMEpalooza Spring. We’ve talked about this enough in the past week, so I don’t have anything particularly interesting to add. No poems or lists or anything like that.

OK, maybe one poem.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Tom Brady stinks
Now submit an abstract

Nailed it.

Go to the CMEpalooza Spring application now and submit your abstract. The rest of you can watch this rendition of “Fly Eagles Fly” from the Central High School orchestra. Go Birds!


Choose Your Own (Annual Conference) Adventure

Well, another Alliance annual conference has come and gone, and all of us lucky enough to have attended have dispersed back to our respective homes with a collection of new knowledge in our heads and a touch of sunshine in our hearts (I only got to be in the sun for about 30 seconds as I walked from the cab to the hotel and back again a few days later, but what a glorious 30 seconds it was.)

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 their offices for the next few days, preoccupied with trying to dig themselves out from under the mountain of email that has accumulated during their extended absence, why not take the day to create your own personal annual conference?

We’ve recently updated the CMEpalooza Archive page to include all of the sessions from CMEpalooza Fall 2017 and there are now over 75 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 baking a cake in the shape of Alf for your son’s birthday party. Just take a couple hours.)

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 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.

6:30 a.m.: 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 go eat breakfast. Remind yourself of the promise you made to eat healthier this year. Proceed to skip over the fruit and yogurt and and devour five mini-muffins and a couple strips of bacon. Throw the bran muffin in the trash. What’s bran anyway?

9:00 a.m. Keynote: Chatting With Graham McMahon
Who better to kickoff our annual conference than the President and CEO of the ACCME?

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.

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: Two Scoops of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Please!
CME activities have become too vanilla. Redundancy abounds and it has become more and more difficult to differentiate one program from another. What does it take to be truly innovative? What are groups doing to separate themselves from the masses? This panel of commercial supporters will discuss what they look for in a grant proposal, the elements that make an activity stand out from the crowd, and provide examples of innovation in education that they have funded recently. Learn how to turn your vanilla program into two scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough!

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: Casual Conversations in CME
There are lots of interesting people working in continuing medical education, but when they are asked to speak or present, it’s often on a pre-assigned topic with a somewhat rigid agenda. Not this time. In this unique session, we’ve paired together 3 teams of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and given them 15 minutes of carte blanche time to decide what they want to talk to each other about. You might hear about their career paths, you might hear about something they are both professionally passionate about, or you might even hear about their mutual love of iguanas. You’ll have to tune in to find out.

Break: Click over to the Exhibit Hall and browse around the sponsors who have signed up for CMEpalooza Spring 2017, so far. 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 with them 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: A Dissection of Feasible Interpretive Tangents From a Discrete Comparative Assessment in CME (aka: What Does My Outcomes Data Mean?)
What if your super power was the ability to command unlimited attention? How would you use it? Maybe negotiate world peace between the leaders of all nations? Not bad. Me? Oh…I’d use it to explain all possible interpretations of pre/post data for a case vignette question. And, yes, I’d wear a super suit. Here’s some of what I’d address:

  1. Who does my data represent?
  2. What qualifies a case vignette?
  3. When do I need effect size?
  4. Where is reliability and validity a concern?
  5. Why are my post-activity scores low?
  6. How do you interpret p-value?

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 4 hours, everyone will either have left or passed out in the loo.



PSA: Judging from the fever, coughing, sore throat, and runny nose that started as soon as I returned home from the Alliance conference, I believe that I have contracted the plague*. If you are reading this and were within breathing distance of me at any point during the conference, you may want to consider contacting the CDC and request that they…I don’t know…quarantine you or put you out of your misery or something. Yet another example of why virtual conferences are so great — no one can breathe on you.

*My wife assures me it is not the plague and probably just a cold, but does she have a medical degree? Noooo!


Top 5 Reasons You Should Submit a Proposal for CMEpalooza Spring

In case you have been living under a rock for the past week (What a weird saying. It’s not even physically possible to live under a rock. Couldn’t it at least be something remotely feasible, like say…living in a tree? I like that better. Let’s go with that.)

In case you have been living in a tree for the past week, you might not be aware that we are currently accepting proposals for CMEpalooza Spring. If you missed it, you can read all about it here. We are really hoping to get a lot of proposals to choose from, so I’ve come up with a Top 5 list of reasons that you (YOU!) should submit a proposal to CMEpalooza Spring.

Here we go:

5) Why not? Look, I didn’t say these were good reasons for submitting a proposal. Just…reasons. But it’s true — why not submit? Maybe you had an amazing proposal you submitted for a presentation at the upcoming Alliance conference, but it was rejected. Maybe you will go to the Alliance conference and come home with a great idea for a presentation that just can’t wait for next year. Maybe you’re at the Alliance conference reading this right now because the session you’re in sounded really interesting from the description but then the speaker started reading his notes in a droning monotone voice like Ferris Bueller’s teacher (played, of course, by the legendary Ben Stein) and the subject is not quite what you thought it would be and you are really bored but still in a post-lunch fog and feeling too lazy to get up and move to a different session. If that’s you (or even if it’s not), head on over to our proposal submission form and submit away!

4) This is your chance to do something different. We don’t just accept submission ideas that are different, we encourage them. We like different. And by different, I also mean weird. Odd. Strange. Unusual. We’ve had people wear wigs. We’ve had people do Yoda impressions. We’ve had a speaker blow-up. We love it all. If you have an idea for a session that you have never submitted anywhere because you think it’s too wacko to ever get accepted — submit it to us. If your dream is to create a hip hop musical based on the ACCME’s Standards for Commercial Support and you’re worried that Lin-Manual Miranda might steal another one of your ideas, may I humbly suggest you submit it to us for your premiere? Trust me on this one — you will never have a review committee as accepting of your oddball ideas as you will with Scott and I.

3) It’s easy. Presenting at CMEpalooza is a 3-step process:

Step 1: We email you a link
Step 2: You click on the link and enter YouTube Live
Step 3: You do your presentation

OK, fine, I may have glossed over a few minor steps, but it really is easy. One of the most common comments presenters make when they do CMEpalooza for the first time is just how simple a process it is. You don’t need to travel anywhere or have any special equipment beyond a laptop with a webcam (almost all of them have one built-in these days).

I should also mention that, for those of you who have a little bit of stage fright or feel uncomfortable in front of a crowd, CMEpalooza is a perfect venue for you. The only people you will see during your presentation are your co-presenters (if you have co-presenters) and either Scott or me (see #2 below). No sea of faces staring back at you. No worrying about making eye contact with the person in the last row. You won’t even know how many people are watching (I’ll know, but I’ll lie to you if it makes you feel better.) Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezee.

2) You get to meet me and Scott. I mean, how great is that, huh? Two charming and good-looking dudes like us, who wouldn’t want to meet us? Am I right? Ladies? Fellas? Anyone? Is this thing on? [tap tap]

Maybe making this #2 was a tad too high. Let’s move on.

1) Because we’re running out of ideas on our own. Seriously, we need some help. This will be our [counts on fingers] ninth palooza and it’s hard coming up with fresh ideas and topics. It’s easy for us to fall back on repeating the tried and true and what has worked well in the past, but we also want to stay innovative and try new things (Speaking of trying new things, this weekend my family went to a new Georgian [the country, not the state] restaurant in northeast Philadelphia and oh my lord was it delicious. The khachapuri — which is bread filled with gooey melted cheese — was…[kisses fingertips]. But I digress…) You are much smarter than Scott or I. I’m sure you have tons of great ideas. Just take one of them, turn it into a proposal, and submit it here.


Submit your proposal here

Submit a Proposal Now for CMEpalooza Spring

Oh the weather outside is frightful
Might as well write a proposal
For the palooza of CME

That was…truly awful.

Honestly, I only write these ridiculous things because I make Scott review all my blog posts before I post them and it makes me laugh just thinking about him rolling his eyes and muttering expletives under his breath as he’s reading what I’ve written. Good times! (Note from Scott: Pretty accurate assessment)

On to more important matters.

When the January weather turns harsh, our minds turn to thoughts of spring, which reminds us of CMEpalooza Spring, which reminds us that we need an agenda, which makes us smack ourselves in the forehead and wonder why we didn’t start thinking about this sooner (I kid, I kid. Scott and I actually had an official planning meeting about CMEpalooza Spring months ago [cough cough… December]. I even brought along a notebook. Did I fail to take any notes and then forget everything we talked about? Maybe.)

As always, our goal with the CMEpalooza Spring agenda is to have the CME/CE community intimately involved in its development. This year, we are releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for anyone to submit an idea for a CMEpalooza Spring session. This perhaps sounds more impressive than it actually is since the RFP being “released” is just this blog post, but work with me here.

We are going to try to keep the process pretty simple. If you have an idea for a session that you would like to lead at CMEpalooza Spring (don’t forget the change to a 2-day agenda, April 25-26), just complete the RFP submission form below by the end of the day on Friday, February 2. After February 2, Scott and I will review all of the proposals that we have received and select six for the agenda. We may ask a few others to help us decide, or we may simply wield our extensive power and make the choices on our own. Not sure yet.

Here are a few guidelines:

  1. This is an online conference and all sessions are done via YouTube Live (Google Hangout). All presenters must have a computer, access to a decent internet connection, and a webcam. Most laptops produced after 2010 have one built in.
  2. Proposals will only be considered if they are submitted via the RFP submission form below.
  3. The deadline for proposals to be submitted is by the end of day on Friday, February 2.
  4. We are open to pretty much any idea as long as it’s possible for us to do via YouTube Live and it relates in some way to CME/CE.
  5. Interactive formats with multiple presenters, such as panel sessions and interviews, are encouraged. Single-person PowerPoint lectures are discouraged, unless you can convince us that it’s going to be really, really good.
  6. Please verify the availability of all presenters for the dates of CMEpalooza (April 25 and/or 26) before submitting their name in your proposal. If you don’t, we won’t be happy. Scott will probably scowl at you when you email us to tell us one of your speakers is not available. You don’t want that. Trust me.
  7. There are six categories we are looking to fill for a well-rounded agenda. They are: Outcomes, Educational Design, Technological Innovations, Commercial Support, Accreditation, and CME Potpourri (anything that doesn’t fit in the other five categories). Your proposal should align with one of these categories. Ideally, we will select one proposal for each category, but we might decide to choose multiple proposals for one category based on what we receive. It’s our conference and we can do what we want.
  8. We don’t want to limit creativity, so there isn’t a limit on the number of proposals you can submit, but use common sense and be reasonable. We will likely only choose one proposal for which you are listed as the lead contact, so don’t submit ten proposals or something crazy like that.
  9. We will try to notify you within a week of the deadline if your proposal has been accepted or not.
  10. If you have any questions, feel free to email Derek ( or Scott ( or find us at the Alliance conference in a couple weeks

I think that about covers it. I especially want to encourage people who have never presented at CMEpalooza to submit a proposal. We are always happy to have new presenters participate and now is as good a time as any. The RFP submission form is below. Have fun!

Which Is the Better Palooza: One Full-Day or Two Half-Days?

We had a major CMEpalooza planning session last week with the entire CMEpalooza staff. It was really quite the event; we flew everyone down to a private resort in Aruba for the weekend, set-up one of those giant tents on the beach, and made everyone brainstorm new ideas for 12 hours straight until letting them out to play in the water. Then we capped it all off by convincing the remaining members of Led Zeppelin to finally reunite for one last concert to close out the weekend (things got a little out of control when Scott stormed the stage and demanded they play Smoke on the Water. He calmed down a bit after I reminded him that that was a Deep Purple song, but by then Robert Plant had already slammed down his bottle of Evian and stalked indignantly offstage, bringing the concert to an abrupt end. At least they played Kashmir.)

One of the ideas that we bandied about was the possibility of transitioning each CMEpalooza from a full-day event to half-day events (held on consecutive days). The reason for this is that audience participation/attendance for CMEpalooza always falls off after lunch. Every single time. We could have a 10 a.m. session called, “Watch Derek Brush His Teeth” and a 3 p.m. session called, “Watch Scott Play Quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles” and my toothbrush would undoubtedly become quite famous.

Why do we have this drop-off? It’s hard to say for sure. Maybe people are busy and have work to do (it’s possible.) Maybe people are worn out from all the amazing learning and their brains are tired (doubtful.) Maybe people can only handle staring at Scott’s and my face on their screens for a maximum of four hours a day (that’s the one!)

Whatever the reason, we thought that maybe people would get even more out of CMEpalooza if we broke it up a little more. Let’s say 3-4 hours of sessions one morning, finish up by 1 pm ET, and then 3-4 hours of sessions the next morning. Is that better?

No, I’m really asking — is that better? Let’s do a quick poll. Let us know which format you prefer.

If you have strong feeling one way or the other that extend beyond just selecting one of the poll choices, feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for your help!

Who Are You? Who, Who, Who, Who?

We really want to know! So, if you tuned in to any of the CMEpalooza Fall sessions last Wednesday and haven’t already done so (47 of your have), please take our survey. Here’s the link to it:

We do actually read through the survey and comments, and use the information to (try to) make CMEpalooza better. Especially helpful are the suggestions provided for topics of interest for future sessions, which we quite frequently use to help shape the next agenda. From the responses we have received so far, a session on the new ACCME criteria and a CME Basics course have been cited the most frequently. If you have other suggestions, let us know!

(Scott sometimes accuses me of making obscure references that no one else understands. We all know the title and first line of this post are from the 1978 song Who Are You? by The Who, right? This is a pretty obvious one. Please don’t email and tell me you thought it was from the opening theme song for C.S.I…)

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 Hangout?
No. You are not on the Hangout. You are only watching a video feed of the Hangout. You can play the air horn version of Take On Me by 80’s legends a-ha at top 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 the air horn version of Take On Me by 80’s legends a-ha at top volume while watching CMEpalooza.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at the office?

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at home?

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

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall while at a Boston Celtics game? 
ugh…no yes.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall with Homer Simpson?
I don’t know. Let’s ask him.

I guess not. The important thing is that you tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.

Do I have to pre-register or register?

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza Fall? 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 sing the score from the H.M.S. Pinafore.

Can I get a certificate for watching CMEpalooza Fall?
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 2017, here you go. I’ll also post it on the LIVE page tomorrow.

How do I ask questions to the presenters?
Good question. There are three 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
  3. Click on the Google Slides link on the LIVE page and enter your question there

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

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 the 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.