A Holiday You’ll All Love (Groan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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

Comments on the ACCME’s Call For Comments

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

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

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

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

Personal rant over.

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

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

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

Hear Us Out – It’s the CMEpalooza Spring Agenda

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

“Will you…” “No!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE HAVE A SPRING AGENDA!

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

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

When Words Matter (Maybe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What If Faculty Were Chocolate?

Hey, you know who is annoying? No, not the barista at the coffee shop yesterday who gave me a condescending look when I ordered a macchiato and sniffed, “Just so you are aware — we make a true macchiato here, which means a properly pulled shot of espresso and a dash of foamed milk. It’s not like something you would get at…[sigh]…Starbucks.” Uh, yeah, no duh, coffee-dude. Who doesn’t know that? I mean, really.

No, I’m talking about those annoying people who get to know a little something about something and suddenly they’re a “marketing guru” or a “social media ninja” or some other term that tries to emphasize expertise. I mean, I guess those things sound cool or whatever, but just because you’ve figured out how to use SnapChat to share a tweet about your most recent TikTok, it doesn’t make you some kind of masked avenger. Looks pretty rad on a business card, though.

Over the course of the past 6 years, I have probably run, I don’t know, 50 or 60 CMEpalooza sessions. We have more than 100 sessions in the Archive, so probably somewhere right around there. Multiply that by however many presenters we get for each session — usually at least 2, if not more — and I think it’s fair to say that I have a reasonable amount of experience working with faculty. I haven’t given myself a neat title like “Faculty Wrangler” or “Speaker Swami,” but I have made a few observations about some common trends among our faculty. Maybe you have noticed something similar.

Faculty, I have found, can often be grouped into three categories, similar to chocolate. Let’s take a look:

Dark Chocolate: The best of the best. Without question, dark chocolate is the superior form of chocolate. It presents with a much more complex and grown-up flavor profile than other forms of chocolate and provides a more exquisite overall tasting experience.

Faculty who fall into the dark chocolate category are easy to pick out. They don’t need the voice of a professional voice-over artist, but they are confident, well-prepared, and speak with ease. When I have my A/V test with them (as Scott and I do with all our faculty), they show-up on time, frequently have their own headset ready to go, catch on quickly, and we’re done in five minutes. It’s a joy to work with them

Not all dark chocolate is created equal, though. The Hershey’s Special Dark (sorry guys, it’s not good) faculty of the world give all the appearances of a smooth 80% cocoa, but once the spotlight is on them, they’re staring at their notes and talking in a droning monotone. The packaging is nice, but the actual taste is a disappointment.

Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate is…good. It’s not the best, but it’s not terrible, either. Sometimes, it can even be really good, especially when it is combined with something like peanut butter. There’s a lot you can do with milk chocolate, and I think all of us are happy to have it in our lives. Milk chocolate is certainly better than no chocolate, even though it’s not as good as dark chocolate.

Milk chocolate faculty are critical to any conference. We can’t all be the best speakers in the world (I certainly am not), but we can be pretty good. Some of us, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, are improved when we are combined with something else, like participating on a panel. It makes everyone a little bit better. It’s one of the big reasons that we try to encourage panel sessions when planning the agenda for CMEpalooza. Do milk chocolate faculty sometimes show up late for A/V tests, not have headphones, and take repeated instructions to understand what is going on? Sure, and that’s fine. We like milk chocolate a lot.

Side note: How is a Snickers bar like our faculty from last year’s Jake Powers, CME Detective session? They both contain nuts. HEY-OOOO! And thus ends this episode of Terrible Dad Jokes. (Note from Scott: Wait, now we’re doing episodes of Terrible Dad Jokes? I am giddy with excitement. Just wait for my next blog post…)

White Chocolate: Awful. It is true that I have been known to refer to white chocolate as the secret spawn of Satan, which is perhaps a little harsh. But as Verbal Kint taught us in The Usual Suspects, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. So, I might be on to something. Anyway, white chocolate is horrible, and you should never ever eat it, especially this abomination M&M’s created combining the flavors of white chocolate and candy corn. Why would you do this M&M’s?? WHY???

I don’t think I need to go into much detail here about white chocolate faculty. We have all had the dreadful experience of working with faculty who just aren’t very good. It’s a bad time for everyone involved. Fortunately, we have had very little experience with this type of faculty during CMEpalooza. In fact, I can really only think of one…and I’m not telling. Am I saying that just so you will have to go back through every session in the Archive to try and figure out who it is? Maybe…maybe not. (Note from Scott: I remember this person very well. Let’s just say it’s a bit awkward when we cross paths at live conferences.)

We are working diligently to finalize the agenda for CMEpalooza Spring and should have something for all of you to see fairly soon. I think I can confidently say that we will have a pleasant mix of dark chocolate faculty, milk chocolate faculty, Reese’s Peanut Butter cup faculty, and hopefully a few Snickers faculty, too.

 

Completing the “Origin” Chain

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

Great, I love a free meal!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[thinks]

Nope. Nice try, Kober.)

How I (Katie) Learned About CME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything In Its Right Place

It was during my 8-week residency at Penn Therapy and Fitness on Market Street in West Philadelphia that I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake. I had just one more rotation to go and then I would graduate from Thomas Jefferson University with a Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy. Riding the Market Street line home to my dinky apartment in Center City after another frustrating day of massive amounts of paperwork and constant lecturing by my supervisor, I was forced to confront the reality of my situation: I hated what I was doing and I hadn’t even started a real job in my field yet.

Despite my growing trepidation, I did finish out my residencies and graduated, never talking to anyone about my growing concerns about my chosen career path. For the next year, I worked numerous odd jobs while mailing out over 80 resumes (yes, you used to have to mail out resumes in the pre-Internet days) for any and every position a freshly graduated physical therapist could apply for in the Philadelphia region, all for naught. On the bright side, the temp agency I was working for at the time sent me all over Philly, so it was a great opportunity to explore a city that I quickly grew to love.

(Extended note from Scott: Am I the only one who finds it impossible that Derek was actually a physical therapist for like, a split second.

“Um, excuse me, am I doing this right?”

“Um, yeah, uh sure. Sorry, I was looking at another 76ers blog. You look fine to me.”

I think we all agree he made the right career choice.)

In the fall of 2000, I was assigned a temp job in the continuing medical education office at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU). I was back at my alma mater. My one-week assignment turned into two weeks, then 1 month, then 3 months. By this point, I was completely disheartened with the idea of searching for a job that I was no longer sure I even wanted. I had also reached the point that for numerous reasons, most of them financial, I had to find more permanent employment. A full-time position opened up in the CME office, and I took it.

I can still remember the job title: Secretary B. My main tasks were tons of data entry and assisting with the logistics and setup for live meetings. Our office was two floors directly below the room where I had just had gross anatomy lab 18 months before. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have the work. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a humbling experience to come back to TJU in that capacity, rather than in the position for which they had trained me. My doubts about being a physical therapist were replaced by even sharper doubts about the decision I had made to leave it behind to be, well, Secretary B. I spent many hours that first year banging away at a beige keyboard, entering registration info and evaluation results, Radiohead’s Kid A blasting out of my headphones to drown out that inner voice asking me “What have you done?”

Fast-forward 17 years to the summer of 2018…and things at that time have worked out pretty well. My career in CME has had some ups and downs, but has steadily progressed. My parents no longer regularly ask me if I’m considering going back to work in physical therapy. I have a job that I like and help produce a pretty cool online conference called CMEpalooza that other people seem to enjoy. I can’t complain.

A friend from across the street texts me – “Radiohead is coming to Philly. Let’s go!” I’m in, I text him. Then he sends me the ticket prices and I am aghast. There is no way, NO WAY, I am paying that much to go to a concert. I’m out, I text him back.

But I keep thinking about it and thinking about it. I really want to go. I double-check my bank account and then I talk to my wife. You should go, she tells me. I’m back in, I text my friend back.

And so I go to the Radiohead concert, paying way too much for my ticket, and have an amazing time. Towards the end of the concert, the opening beats from “Idioteque” – my favorite song from the Kid A album – start up and I realize to my embarrassment that I have tears streaming down my face. I know this sounds rather mawkish and trite, but all I can think about is how lost and overwhelmed I felt while listening to that song over and over again as Secretary B and how far I have come since then. The moment got to me.

I think about that moment often whenever we start preparing for the next CMEpalooza. I might still be Secretary B at TJU if it wasn’t for access to professional development resources that helped me advance my career (and I would be remiss not to also mention the value of a strong mentor, who in my case was the wonderful Jeanne Cole, recently retired Director of CME at TJU.)  My hope is that CMEpalooza can in some small way be a help to those just starting their careers. We have a ton of resources in our archive, but if there is something you think we are missing that would of value to you, please feel free to reach out and let me know.

Tomorrow night, I am going to hear a Radiohead tribute band that is playing Kid A in its entirety. I don’t think I’ll get teary-eyed this time, but it should be an excellent reminder to me of why we continue on with CMEpalooza. Here’s to keeping everything in its right place.

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.