George Mejicano, MD, outgoing president of the former Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, unveiled the organization’s new name—the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions—and new logo at the Alliance’s annual meeting, held January 21–24 in Orlando. He also highlighted some of the groundwork ACEHP has done since it announced its new mission and strategic directions last January.

Along with the name change, members also voted this past fall to enact a new bylaw that allows two new members to join the board. These two members— Melanie Bulthuis, senior manager, Pain/ITB Medical Education, Metronics; and John Vozenilek, MD, FACEP, assistant professor, department of emergency medicine, and assistant professor, medical education, Feinberg School of Medicine—were introduced during the member section meetings held on the conference’s first day.

According to the Alliance’s 2012 president, Damon Marquis, MA, MS, who also serves as director of education and member services with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the addition of these two board members shows “We are very serious about following through the strategic plan and reaching out to a broader array of healthcare educators.” Bultuis brings experience working on both the industry grantor and healthcare education sides, he said. Vozenilek’s background in simulation training, a growing area for CME, will also help diversify the board’s expertise.

“Each step we take gets us closer to satisfying the needs of our educators to improve the quality of care,” Marquis said, adding, “It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s hard not to get totally engaged with a board like this taking the lead.”

On the Agenda: Disclosure System, Fundraising, and Research
Also announced at the meeting was the rollout of the national disclosures system, which is on schedule for the end of the second quarter. Also on the Alliance’s 2012 agenda: undertaking a concerted fundraising effort; updating the competences to encompass all healthcare professions; considering new membership categories; enhancing organizational collaboration; streamlining leadership and governance; and launching the Alliance Research Institute.

Gabrielle Kane, president of the Society for Academic CME, spoke at the meeting about how SACME, supported by a grant from Pfizer, is working with ACEHP to improve the state of the art in CME research. She outlined the SACME research agenda, which is based on two main projects at this point: A literature review to identify gaps and guide new research, and a taxonomy project. She invited Alliance members to participate in both.

Also at the meeting, the Alliance’s five-year executive director, Paul Weber, announced he would be retiring in May. Calling him “the cornerstone that helps keep the board focused on developing the strategic plan,” Marquis said that, while it will be a challenge to find a replacement, he is confident that the search committee will find someone capable of continuing the work Weber has been doing to push the new agenda forward.

Re-evaluating Evaluations
The conference evaluation system also underwent a serious upgrade for this year’s meeting. The online assessment tool enables participants to evaluate individual sessions and posters, plus provide an evaluation of the conference overall. The forms include both closed questions, such as whether the activity was free of product or service promotion, and open-ended questions, such as asking for an example of how participants will use what they learned at the conference in their workplaces. In a move that mirrors what CME providers do to get data to measure outcomes, the Alliance this year is asking participants to fill out another evaluation form nine to 11 weeks post-conference to discover what changes in behavior actually resulted from the conference.

Continuing to find new ways to put the strategic plan in play is going to take a lot of work, but Marquis says the Alliance is up for it. “Our membership is not made up of wallflowers,” said Marquis. “Their friends would be blown away if they knew the things our members manage to pull off in an average day. They are what allow us to move forward so quickly.”

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