How do you become that “go-to” person in the continuing education industry? Many of us have great ideas we want to share with our colleagues in CE. For newcomers, it can be a daunting task to present an interesting and relevant workshop at a conference. Getting your ideas out to the masses in print has its own set of challenges. With challenges, however, come opportunities.
People often think about networking when they are job hunting but overlook the value of networking as a routine activity. As accredited providers, we speak with a variety of people on a daily basis from hospital CE offices to medical specialty societies and academic institutions. Often we meet these colleagues during annual conferences. We're usually so focused on take-home messages for our various organizations that cultivating these relationships takes a back seat to the business at hand. But these relationships are key building blocks. The more we network, the more people will begin to associate our names with the knowledge we possess.
Many CE professionals have worked in continuing education or relevant industries for years with no advanced degree, some college but no degree, or even with only a high school diploma. We are responsible for researching and preparing needs assessments, writing and submitting grant proposals, complex budget management, quality assurance/quality control, outcomes measurement, understanding regulatory guidelines, and applying adult learning principles. It is essential that you demonstrate understanding of the CE core competencies, especially if you are noncredentialed. Some strategies you might consider include:
Use all the resources you have, including industry publications, conferences and workshops, your current leadership, and your CE colleagues.
Take courses in adult learning principles or healthcare management.
By getting additional training, proving your competency, and sharing your knowledge with others, you might find some opportunities for leadership that previously were unavailable.
Leading By Example
How do we get our current leadership to recognize our abilities as newcomers? Many of us are already leaders on a smaller scale, perhaps within our CE offices: We influence the opinions and decisions of our colleagues on a daily basis. So how do we demonstrate these skills on a larger scale? At its 2006 annual conference, the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education devoted a workshop to mentoring. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with CME leaders one on one. How do those of us who have had this opportunity cultivate these relationships? Contemplate the following approaches:
Reach out to these same individuals. Remember, these experts were once newcomers themselves. Some of them might welcome the opportunity to collaborate on a presentation.
Discuss working together on an article if they are a member of a journal's editorial board. ACME has afforded CME professionals the opportunity to submit abstracts for its annual conference. In addition, research other CE conference opportunities for abstract submission.
Consider volunteering with ACME or other organizations in the CE industry.
Whether it is seeking mentors, volunteering, or striking out on our own, we must explore ways to prove that we have the competency and skills required to become the next CE leaders.
Ann C. Lichti, assistant CME director, Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc., Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., has three and a half years' CE experience. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute the views of Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc.