Having just returned from the latest Alliance for CME annual meeting, I thought it apropos to share my thoughts. I feel like an expert on the subject, being a Fellow of the Alliance and having attended all but one of the last 13 meetings.
This year's Alliance meeting felt different from the start: That buzz that has always been part of every Alliance meeting was missing. There has always been a feeling of energy in the hallways and exhibit hall. It extends into the meeting rooms and, yes, even to the bar. Well, this year was different. I didn't feel a pulse and I wondered: Has something died? Was this a funeral?
Looking around and seeing a smaller than usual crowd was depressing. Looking around for old friends and hearing that they weren't there because they were no longer working or had left CME was sad. Talking with people who were unsure of their own future was equally disheartening.
CPR for CME
Do we need to resuscitate CME with CPR? What tools do we have in our armamentarium to put the pulse back into the community? I have a few thoughts:
- Advocate for good CME
There are a lot of detractors out there. There are those who oppose commercial support, others who oppose certain provider types, and still others who feel that CME as we know it is poor at best. We need to speak up. Good providers need to be highlighted, regardless of type. (Yes, I am saying that there are good and bad providers in all provider sectors. You know exactly what I mean.)
- Share success stories
There's a lot of great CME happening, but most of us never hear about it. We need a vehicle to showcase CME activities and providers that are clearly improving physician competence, physician performance, and patient outcomes. The Alliance and the North American Association of Medical Education and Communications Companies each give out awards, but that's not enough. We need ongoing demonstrations of best practices so that we can refer detractors to them.
- Get rid of the acronym MECC
I hate it. I don't think that there is such a thing as a medical education and communications company (at least not anymore). If we have to come up with a name, how about accredited medical education provider and non-accredited medical education provider. Many people and organizations tend to lump these two categories together, and this is not prudent. Each group should be considered separately.
- Make the CCMEP credential a requirement
Every organization that is involved directly or indirectly in CME should have at least one person on staff who has earned the Certified CME Professional credential. This would create a standard that would speak volumes to the detractors and to those who know little but comment a lot about CME.
So, instead of throwing in the towel, folks, pick one or more of these recommendations and help not only to revive CME, but to make it better and stronger than it was before. Hey, bionic CME!
Lawrence Sherman, FACME, CCMEP, is president and CEO of Physicians Academy for Clinical and Management Excellence, New York. A 15-year CME veteran, he is a frequent lecturer on topics related to the strategic development, dissemination, and evaluation of CME activities. Reach him at LS@physacad.com.