I just returned from Pharmaceutical Executive's 4th Annual MedEd Forum where I spent two and a half days interacting with the same people I saw at the American Medical Association National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration meeting two months earlier. I found the backroom buzz and the break-time conversations quite intriguing, and the most common question that I heard was: Why does the same group of us continue to attend meetings at which the same information is being presented by the same people? Do we just like seeing each other?
That really got me thinking. Although we are educators, do we attend these meetings to be educated? Do we attend to educate? What are the reasons that we go? That led me to my Top Ten Reasons for Attending So Many CME-Related Conferences Each Year (in no particular order or ranking):
- Find new opportunities for grant funding.
- Find new opportunities to spend our grant funding.
- Network with old friends.
- Network with new friends.
- Network with people who I wouldn't call friends.
- Spend two days without meetings in my office.
- Identify best practices.
- Identify worst practices.
- Eat good food and drink good wine.
- If I don't go, people will wonder where I am.
I can say that no matter what the meeting or conference, I always find something valuable, either during the sessions or during the time between sessions. In fact, I probably learn more and accomplish more outside of the main rooms. When I think about the Alliance for CME meeting, I know that over the last three years I have given so many presentations that I have not been able to attend many sessions. That notwithstanding, I have considered each of these meetings vital. More professionally than socially, in case you were going to ask.
So, if so much happens outside of the main conference sessions, are we really using these meetings to move the profession of CME forward? I say yes! The combination of sound educational sessions and the outside-the-room activities have us moving, albeit slowly, in a positive direction.
I often see various providers meeting to identify collaborative ventures. I see organizations, that in one sense may be considered competitors, huddling to identify opportunities to work together. This is not collusion, but survival of the fittest. I see commercial supporters talking with one another to identify best practices and even touch on ways to collaborate. And I see supporters and providers interacting — appropriately, of course!
As I think about what needs to happen to move further forward, I have a few suggestions:
- These conferences should attempt not to mimic each other, but develop niches in which they specialize.
- CME thought leaders should spearhead sidebar activities at these conferences with a goal of advancing the profession.
- All CME stakeholders should voice their requests for sessions at all conferences and meetings.
- New voices should be heard, so that the next generation of CME key opinion leaders emerges.
- Mentorship should cross company lines. Activities like the Alliance for CME mentor/mentee program set an example for what can occur across the profession.
In the next issue, I'll write about how providers and supporters can better find each other. As you might suspect, I have an idea …
Lawrence Sherman, FACME, is CEO, Physicians Academy for Clinical and Management Excellence, New York, N.Y. A 12-year CME veteran, Sherman is an Accreditation Council for CME site surveyor. He was also a stand-up comedian in a previous life. Contact him at LS@physacad.com.