DESPITE MOUNTING evidence that the old adult education models aren't always the best ways to promote real learning, some CME providers still find themselves beating their heads against the walls trying to get their organizations to accept even something as simple as a new format. I recently spoke with a medical meeting planner who is frustrated because her organization absolutely refuses to make even the smallest change. “If I make a suggestion for the simplest thing — say, to use something other than classroom style — it's as if I suggested we all wear chicken suits. We could give them data until we turned blue in the face, and it wouldn't matter,” she said.

Much of the resistance she encounters comes from the content committee members who have always done a program a certain way and see no reason to change it. The denial is absolute: She says the attendance numbers have been declining for six months, and they still refuse to consider changing anything. “Because I'm not a medical person, they feel I shouldn't have much input on content design,” she said. “They see me as a glorified administrative assistant.”

You'd think, being grown-ups and all, that those in charge of CME wouldn't still be waiting until everyone's out on the dance floor before daring to take a spin themselves. But there they are, still standing on the sidelines with these great ideas, all dressed up with nowhere to go. How ridiculous is that?

I've been accused of being a Pollyanna, but come on, common sense dictates that this has got to change. Sure, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but when leaders in CME say “CME doesn't work” in front of audiences at national conferences, who could argue that CME doesn't need — at the very least — a tuneup and a fresh coat of paint? And we have the tools to do it — that's the most frustrating part.

While it's cathartic to sit and complain, though, that really doesn't help move CME forward. I know there must be providers out there who are breaking through the “We've always done it this way” barrier. I can't shake common sense into stubborn leaders, but I can share your successes with those still struggling, which I hope will provide some fresh ideas on how they too can begin to nudge their CME programs into the 21st century.

So let's talk: Call me at (978) 448-0377 or e-mail spelletier@primediabusiness.com.