CMEpalooza: A Look Back at the Beginning

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

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

Hop on in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Move your butt, Warnick. Now!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.


Your CMEpalooza Pursuit Winners

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

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

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

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

Now you know who to hit up for a loan.

Last Chance to Play CMEpalooza Pursuit is Today!

For all of you procrastinators out there, a final reminder that the entry forms for CMEpalooza Pursuit, our blockbuster sponsor event, are due by 11:59 p.m. ET tonight (Wednesday, April 4).

I don’t have to remind you what’s at stake… but I will anyway. We’re giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards as prizes – there will be 13 winners of between $25-100. And that’s right Johnny, you could be one of them!

Here is what real people are saying about CMEpalooza Pursuit:

  • “I love these Pursuits – I learn so much about the different organizations that I normally wouldn’t take the time to learn.”
  • “Genius idea! Truly brilliant.”
  • “Let your sponsors know it works – I spent more time than intended poring over their website info!”

Here is what celebrities might be saying about CMEpalooza Pursuit (we’re currently confirming):

  • “I found out I was fired in a tweet last week. The only thing that cheered me up was the chance to play CMEpalooza Pursuit. Now I’m 400 pages into my tell-all book about the White House. Thanks for giving me motivation!”
  • “The Queen Mother keeps insisting that Meghan and I personally meet with every single vendor who will be working at our wedding. Enough with the florists already! I tell them that I’m doing research on the proper hue of calla lilies, but I’m really playing CMEpalooza Pursuit. A toast to you all!”
  • “Since my recent eye surgery has me laid up in the hospital thanks to my clumsy teammate, I’ve been playing CMEpalooza Pursuit for hours. Rihanna better be impressed!”

See, everyone loves CMEpalooza Pursuit! Surely you can carve out a few minutes during today’s lunch break to join the in-crowd.

Some Ends and Odds

A few things to update you on:

1. There have been a few additions and adjustments to our Spring agenda. Most notably, you’ll see our Thursday lunch session sponsored by ACHL now has a title, full description, and faculty. It’ll be a unique session focused on the CME implications of the rise in legalization of medical marijuana across the United States. Both the president and CEO of the ACCME, Graham McMahon, as well the president of the ACEHP, Steven Kawczak, are confirmed as panelists. Should be interesting. And, of course, I couldn’t resist a few wisecracks based on the session topic (ie, “Let’s change the start of the session to 4:20” and “Gives a new meaning to the term ‘joint provider'”). Feel free to come up with one of your own in the Comments section below this post.

2. You have less than a week to submit your entry for CMEpalooza Pursuit. We’ve got $500 in Amazon gift cards to give away, but like anything else, you can’t win if you don’t participate. All of the information you need to play can be found in our recent post.

3. I had the “pleasure” of sitting next to Derek at a recent Philadelphia 76ers game. The dude is the most pessimistic “fan” I have ever met. The opposing team scored the first basket of the game and he grabbed his coat and was ready to leave. He wasn’t even kidding. As usual, I ignored him and he sat back down, only to moan and groan the remainder of the evening. The 76ers have lost only one home game since the start of the new year – I’ll let you guess which night that occurred on.

Happy spring everyone. The snow will melt eventually. I hope.

CMEpalooza Pursuit: Trivia Ahead of Its Time

Trivia is trendy these days.

It seems like I get a text every month from a friend inviting me to sign up for one of the numerous live trivia games you can now play on your phone. Far as I can tell, the concept behind them all is similar – you answer a series of trivia questions of varying difficulty (ranging from “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” to “Who was the undertaker who dug the hole for Grant’s Tomb?”) in a certain amount of time and then, if you get them all right, you win a nominal amount of money. I occasionally play some of these games with limited success – it’s apparently a great time suck in many offices around the world.

As usual, our intern wizards were ahead of the curve when they suggested we develop a trivia-based CMEpalooza sponsor event several years ago. Just like today’s trendy copycats — lawsuits are pending — you are presented with a variety of questions related to the brilliant companies who sponsor CMEpalooza and then, when you answer them all correctly, you win money. Lots and lots of money (for reals, yo).

Today, we are proud to launch our Spring sponsor event, CMEpalooza Pursuit. As the name suggests, this is an adaptation of everyone’s pie-filled favorite, Trivial Pursuit. This year, we have divided questions into 7 categories – the 6 original game categories as well as an extra Potpourri category. With 20 sponsors of our Spring event, there were simply too many to try to jam in to the traditional boxes. Plus, extra learning for you!

Here is how CMEpalooza Pursuit works:

  1. Click here to download the list of questions
  2. Click here to download the entry form
  3. Use the Sponsor tab of the CMEpalooza website to get links to all of the companies involved in this event. You’ll need to visit the Sponsor sites to get the answers to all of our questions. We promise there is nothing that can’t be found within a click or two.
  4. Complete the entry form by coming up with a correct response to one question in each category. That’s seven questions/answers in all. Now, we have had some brown nosers who have tried in the past to answer more than the required amount of questions, which is fine. It just won’t help you win.
  5. Send your completed entry form to me via email at by 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 4.
  6. Cross your fingers.

We’ll be giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards this Spring – there will be 8 winners of $25, 4 winners of $50, and 1 grand prize winner of $100. Unlike some of the more mainstream trivia apps, there aren’t thousands of people expected to complete CMEpalooza Pursuit. If you play, your chances are reasonably good of winning a prize (no promises though).


We’ve Got an Agenda!

The development process for CMEpalooza Spring goes through more changes than Derek’s demeanor (yes, it looks like a perpetual “I am totally checked out of life,” but there are subtle nuances). One year, we invite abstracts from the public. The next year, we don’t. One year, we have our adoring tolerating public vote for their favorite abstracts. The next year, we use a double-secret process that involves votive candles and a Ouija board. I’m one of the people who decides these annual changes, and it’s becoming hard for even me to keep track of.

One thing, fortunately, that has not changed is the overall quality of our education. Thanks to the creative folks in the CME community, we have consistently been able to provide innovative education — FOR FREE — to our adoring tolerating audience.

And so, once again, we proudly present the agenda for another iteration of CMEpalooza Spring. You may notice that this year’s agenda is split into two days (we announced how that will work several weeks ago). You may notice that a few items are TBA (but not many). You may notice that there are sessions that focus on a variety of aspects of CME planning, development, and measurement (we did that on purpose).

In the end, though, all we really hope is that you notice how you can’t possibly miss a single session of CMEpalooza Spring and set yourself up for a “long lunch” on Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26. You’ll still have time to work before and after our sessions. Just not a lot.

Quick aside: Derek came home from a weekend jaunt with the family to find his Internet connection was down (“because of squirrels or something stupid like that”). Who wants to bet that “something stupid like that” is that he didn’t realize that dial-up connections are no longer being supported by his service provider? And yes, that annoying sound of your dial-up Internet successfully connecting will be ping ponging in your brain for a while. [Note from Derek: Fake news. Per the Verizon guy working on the line, a squirrel was definitely the culprit. This may come as a shock to some of you, but after being told last night that the line would be fixed “in a couple hours,” it is still not fixed this morning. Does anyone have an extra AOL startup CD laying around?]

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!


Embrace the Uncomfortable

I hate cliches.

I mean, really, who goes around killing birds with stones?

I can’t remember the last time I was at the library and didn’t explicitly judge a book based upon its cover.

My son spilled a glass of milk at dinner just last night – did any of us cry over it? Of course not. We’re not idiots.

You get the idea (although I did avoid Derek like the plague last week since he was convinced he had contracted it).

Anyway, back to the point of this story.

You all know the tired cliche, “Try everything once,” right? Or maybe you are more of a “Do something that scares you” kind of person. Doesn’t matter, because this is one sentiment that I want to explore a bit more today as it’s one I try to remember as I sashay through life.

OK, yes, perhaps it wasn’t the brightest idea when I decided to drink a glass of raw eggs a la Rocky Balboa when I was a teenager (didn’t get sick, felt fine).

And it’s true, perhaps little 10-year-old Derek would have been better off not telling his friends, family, and everyone in the surrounding area that he wrote a 15-page love letter to the girl/robot star of Small Wonder (today’s fun fact: she’s apparently now a nurse in Colorado. Derek asks that you let him know if she is ever a faculty member for your educational initiative).

But the point is that we were both conquering our fears and trying something new and uncomfortable (and perhaps stupid). I understand that, for many of you, when we put out the call for submissions for CMEpalooza Spring, you were scared. “No way I am going to talk in public. Uh uh, never, never, never. Besides, who cares what I have to say anyway?”

In reality, though, CMEpalooza is the perfect venue to allow you to overcome your fear of public speaking. You don’t have to picture anyone in the audience naked (let’s face it, the CME crowd ain’t exactly overflowing with Adonises and Aphrodites). You get to choose your surroundings, whether it your home, office, or favorite quiet nook in your local coffee shop. It will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

You’ve only got a few more days to come up with a brilliant idea, recruit a colleague or two to join your presentation team, and then tell us all about what you have planned (submission deadline is this Friday)? What’s the worst that could happen? Whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as this.

So whaddya say? Let’s give it shot, OK sport? Click here for all the information you need to make your dreams come true.