Maintaining its commitment to nurturing attendees' personal as well as professional well being, the Alliance for CME brought in David Whyte, poet and organizational consultant, to give the plenary address at the 27th annual conference. Held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., January 30 to February 2, the meeting attracted 1,070 attendees, a drop from previous years. Organizers assume the decrease is due to 9/11.

In an Irish brogue that made even prose sound like poetry, Whyte, author of Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, encouraged attendees to express their own creativity and voice. Tailoring his talk to the audience, he commented that his wife was a physician, and then urged CME providers to help doctors break free of the constraints their training imposes. “Medical school training puts people into an incredibly compliant hierarchy,” he said. “By the time a doctor emerges into the world, they've quite often lost sight of their own voice and a proactive ability to form the future. One of the great things you can do for health care professionals is to create programs that ask them to participate in a personal way.”

Generously quoting other poets as well as himself, and weaving in anecdotes and humor, Whyte spoke with compassion about the struggles we all face in a world that discourages us from communicating our feelings and perspective. Attendees were moved by his words — a good thing, as CME providers will need all the inspiration they can get to face the changes and turmoil ahead.

9/11 — The Continuing Impact on CME

“Never have we had to respond so rapidly to a need of such national importance,” said Robert Kristofco, director, division of CME, University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, speaking about the terrorist attacks during a Hot Topics in CME session. “It's the first time in my 20 years as a CME practitioner that I felt that I was involved in something so critical as far as its timeliness that it was actually kind of frightening.” Kristofco announced that the UAB started a disaster preparedness center with government support in 2000. (See sidebar, page 10.). The Alliance for CME has also published a compendium of bioterrorism resources on its Web site at www.acme-assn.org.

The effect of the attacks permeated the conference. Numerous speakers discussed the impact on CME content and delivery formats, as well as on meeting planning logistics. And outside the exhibit hall, a poster said: The Alliance extends its sympathy to CME professionals who have suffered personal loses as a result of the attacks of 9/11.

In other new developments discussed at the conference:

  • Content Under Pressure — The Accreditation Council for CME issued a draft proposal requiring that the content of CME activities be based on generally accepted science. Attendees objected, saying CME is a forum for new science, with one CME provider stating that the guidelines are a straitjacket for CME.

  • CME Cut Out of Certification? — Specialty boards are now adopting new maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements, as mandated by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Both the ABMS and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies have raised many concerns about the effectiveness of CME in helping physicians meet these new criteria. In fact, some specialty boards are not planning to use CME in their new MOC program requirements. Speakers urged providers in all settings to collaborate with their boards and take action to address the boards' concerns about CME. More coverage begins on page 48.