and its five sister magazines in The Meetings Group were recently acquired by Intertec Publishing. In a getting-to-know-you meeting, one of the new execs asked me what I considered to be my most valuable source of information in the CME and medical conference fields. "Industry meetings," I replied, with no hesitation at all.
I realized that I can't imagine doing my work effectively without attending the annual conferences of CME providers and meeting planners. Sure, I frequently communicate with readers on the phone and via e-mail. But it's at meetings, where I see you face-to-face, that relationships deepen and trust builds, where controversial and sensitive issues are openly debated. And I hear from you that health care practitioners continue to value the opportunity to interact with peers and experts at your conventions.
That's why I am optimistic about the future of meetings. But - medical education providers face growing obstacles. As you'll see when you read the physician preferences survey (page 32), fewer physicians are traveling to CME conferences. And, as reported in the lead news story (page 8), medical specialty boards, state licensing boards, credentialing committees - not to mention the media and the public - are questioning CME's effectiveness.
The increasing pressure is an opportunity to create a new vision of CME. National meetings don't have to be a series of crowded lectures - the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine is offering fewer lectures and more small group sessions on both clinical and communication skills at its annual conferences. Instead of allowingto stick to the lecture/slide format, you can encourage them to try new tech tools that enhance interaction. (See "Becoming a Tech Coach," page 47.)
If you've developed innovative meeting activities, let us know, so we can continue to offer ideas for transforming conferences into practical, relevant forums that inspire change. Because, to paraphrase the MasterCard ad, yes, it's expensive and time-consuming to attend out-of-town meetings, but - if the meeting is well-designed - the experience is priceless.