The idea for this issue’s cover story first hatched when I got an e-mail out of the blue from someone in the continuing medical education community I have known and admired for a long time. Despite great academic credentials and a hefty number of years of CME experience, he’s been out of work for the past two years. Like so many in every industry these days, he’s being told he’s overqualified for lower level jobs, and he is unable to break down the walls to get at the jobs he really wants. To sweeten the pot, he’s working on a PhD in health services policy and management, but what else can he do to get his foot in the door? What kind of backgrounds and education do people working in the trenches have, we wondered. How have the overall economic doldrums affected CME providers? What about the big reductions we’re seeing in commercial support?
While the results of our survey found that my friend is not the only person experiencing a rough spot in his CME career, I was heartened to see that this community seems to be outpacing the U.S. job market as a whole. While almost a third of respondents said their CME office either laid people off or reduced work hours for some staff last year, most of the rest had added full- or part-time employees, and another third plan to hire at least one new staffer in 2012. You can get the full story here.
But I still have a couple of questions:
• Are our respondents wearing glasses that are a touch on the rosy side? The number of Accreditation Council for CME- and state-accredited providers continues to dribble downward, according to the ACCME Data Reports, and I’ve heard grumbling that the increasing costs of accreditation may cause some to reconsider the value proposition of remaining accredited. Or maybe the growth is coming on the non-accredited side? With commercial support continuing to decline and more and more organizations—even hospitals and medical schools—demanding that their CME shops be self-sufficient financially, I don’t think we’re out of the woods just yet. I’m all for optimism, but let’s not lose the caution.
• Our survey seems to indicate that CME is an extraordinarily female-friendly field: 82 percent of respondents were women. And yet the dais at conferences like the Alliance for CME—sorry, I mean the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Profession—is still more often than not populated by those of the male persuasion. The genders tracked pretty evenly throughout the age spectrum in our survey, so it’s not that just that women are newcomers to the CME party. I have noticed an uptick in female at CME industry events in recent years, though, so maybe faculty representation is evolving to more closely reflect the boots (or perhaps I should say, heels) on the ground?
I’d like to thank those who took the time to take this year’s survey—I know you’re all busy, and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your participation. And I hope that even more will participate in next year’s survey, so we can up the relatively small sample size to one that allows us to draw more and better conclusions about the state of the CME job market. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have ideas on how we can improve the survey—or if you have a hot job prospect for a seasoned CME pro in need.
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