#CMEChat, Pre-Alliance-Meeting version

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Today’s CMEChat on Twitter (held every Wednesday at 11 am Eastern) was a fun romp through what people do to prepare for a monster meeting like the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education’s (now called the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions).

Once we learned the conference’s Twitter hashtag (#acehp12) and how to pronounce ACEHP ( “a-sep,” according to one poster. “Think antiseptic”), and got an update on the weather forecast—“fluorescent and 70 degrees”—we dove into lessons learned/favorite experiences from past Alliance meetings. These included:

• Don’t feel you have to stay in a session that you’re not getting anything out of.

• Don’t worry about missing sessions in favor of hallway conversations. These conversations, and the relationships that can come out of them, are some people’s best conference experiences.

• It can be empowering to look around and realize how many others in the room are in the same boat as you.

• Keep an open mind. “Some of my best ideas came from conversations with people who disagree with me,” said one person. I can’t agree more.

• It’s great to be able to meet people we previously had only known virtually.

• Know that those who preach adult learning principles don’t always practice what they preach.

• Make dinner reservations ahead of time.

• Don’t let the faculty off the hook if they start glazing over the details. Be empowered as a learner.

When it comes to preparing, most are following @theCMEguy’s blog post suggestions, particularly going through the abstracts and making a list of first-, second-, and third-tier choices for each time slot; and setting up meetings. Being a bit of a techno-geeky group, we’re also loading up on apps, such as Tweetchat and Streamboard for meeting tweets, setting a time for an in-person tweetup (Monday at 6 pm), debating whether to tweet to the main #acehp12 hashtag or use the session-specific identifiers (use both as separate hashtags I believe was the consensus), and placing wagers on the total number of tweets to come out of the conference this year.

But just going through the abstracts doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get what you need. How do you find out which sessions may have sounded better on paper than in reality and vice versa? Some rely on the Twitter stream for thumb-ups and –downs. Others hover in the doorway before committing to a session. Others rely on tried-and-true presenters who they know will do a good session, though I personally am always torn between going to a session whose faculty I know is great and looking for the fresh voices and fresh ideas that this community needs to hear.

The sessions people are looking forward to most seemed to depend mostly on whatever their biggest challenges are, from performance-improvement CME to updates from the Accreditation Council for CME to anything to do with grants. The on-site technology help station also is getting some interest from folks, as are technology sessions. What we all hope to get out of the conference varied too, with one recently unemployed poster looking to network and the rest of us hoping to rustle him up a job. Others are looking to make new contacts, and learn more about MOC/MOL, future trends, grants, and technology.

Among our collective goals for this year’s conference?

* Spend at least one meal as a mentor and at least one meal as a mentee.

* Find new ideas, fresh voices, and better ways of doing things. Make connections, learn, speak, share.

* Spend at least one session sitting next to someone you’ve never met.

* Spend more time at meals downstairs than up in your room checking e-mail.

• Participate! Engage, share, be an active learner.

I hope to see you in Orlando!

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