I have heard a lot about life lists lately; these are the lists that people make outlining things that they want to do or accomplish before they die. I thought that it would be interesting to create a personal CME life list of sorts, or a listing of things that I hope to see accomplished during my tenure in the CME community.

  1. The international medical community recognizes CME as the longest and arguably most important aspect of physician education. As I see it, undergraduate medical education lasts for four years, graduate medical education lasts for three to as many as seven or more years, and CME lasts for the rest of the practicing (and sometimes retired) life of physicians. We know that undergraduate and graduate medical education are structured, but CME has little formalized structure. I hope to see CME become more structured and collaborative so that CME credits awarded in one country are accepted worldwide. We have an opportunity to help provide the framework for this structure.

  2. The CME community realizes that commercially supported CME is not inherently biased. This seems to be a constant battle in the minds of some (a few), and it continues to be a barrier to providers at times. There is no doubt in my mind that in the past some commercially supported CME has been biased. Of course, I also believe that in the past, some noncommercially supported CME has been below acceptable standards. There is good and bad in all industries, jobs, and professions. We have an obligation as educators to design, develop, and implement CME activities that are truly educational.

  3. Putting the E back into CME. I think that a lot of CME activities have fallen short of being truly educational. And I will admit that I myself have probably been guilty of this in the past. (Note to independent auditors: I am not confessing to having committed an actual crime!) This is actually a good thing — this heterogeneous group of educational providers has evolved into a community aimed at trying to develop strong educational activities based on sound needs assessments, adult learning principles, and an understanding of our target audiences. Now let's make this item on my CME life list a reality.

  4. Providers of all types must recognize and respect each other. Let's face it, we have all heard criticisms of the different provider types: “Those MECCs are just in it for the money,” “Academic providers are in it for the money too,” “Specialty societies blur the line between promotion and education.” Personally, I don't believe any of those comments, but I have heard them all many times over. I think that we are at a point where all providers, regardless of where they fall on the profit/nonprofit, MECC/academic, and all other comparator scales, have got to try to respect and accept each other.

  5. Providers have to collaborate. Gone are the days of “full-service” providers. In the current environment, where everyone feels hyper-scrutinized and (potentially) under-recognized and under-utilized, providers should seek collaborative opportunities. This will allow providers to focus on their core areas of competence. And we have to let down our barriers and approach those who may once have been considered competitors with a strategy to become colleagues. This can provide a good framework for appropriate interactions between accredited and nonaccredited providers. Everyone has a role; it just has to be defined. The last line of my e-mail signature sums this up: “Talk is cheap, advice is free, but collaboration is priceless.”

What items would you put on your CME life list? E-mail them to me at LS@physacad.com. If I get enough, I will put them together in a follow-up article.

Lawrence Sherman, FACME, is president and CEO of Physicians Academy for Clinical and Management Excellence, New York. A 12-year CME veteran, he is a frequent lecturer on topics related to the strategic development, dissemination, and evaluation of CME activities. Reach him at LS@physacad.com.