The Case

Dolly Doright, the CME director of a specialty society in Washington, D.C., has recently had some staff turnover and needs to hire a project manager and a grant writer. She decides to review online job postings to determine what characteristics other CME organizations are looking for and to help her develop job descriptions and advertisements. She is puzzled by the following desired attributes for a pharmaceutical company medical education manager posted on the Web site of a CME-related professional association:

  • Oversee development of medical education deliverables

  • Ensure medically accurate materials and strategic alignment with operating plans

  • Manage medical education vendors

Then she becomes alarmed when she sees the following listed in the job description for a business development associate for an education agency posted on a “headhunter” site:

  • Build and maintain strong client relationships

  • Advise clients on message development and marketing strategies

  • Develop customized proposals for customers based on their objectives, desired tactics, and budgets

Dolly regrets her decision to seek out the existing ads. She is now bewildered as to how to proceed.

Compliance Deficit

Overstreet: As hard as it is to believe, the examples above are real excerpts from job postings in 2008. The supporter job listing clearly isn't compliant with new Accreditation Council for CME policies, which prohibit any input on content. Likewise, the education company listing reflects the old way of doing business in which supporters' marketing plans influence proposals and educational content.

Parochka: Obviously, the persons writing the advertisements — and perhaps those posting them — are unaware of the differences between CME positions (those involved with developing independent, certified education) and promotional ones.

Overstreet: These folks need a remedial course in CME compliance. Shame on both the hiring managers and the webmasters for posting these items, which add to the confusion about the difference between certified and promotional education.

How should CME job openings be written and advertised?

Parochka: CME leaders need to be mindful of language when writing position descriptions and job advertisements. There is a specific lexicon that they should use when communicating with the public and potential hires.

Overstreet: Yes, semantics are very important. Even more important is a true understanding of the nuances of ethical and compliant behavior — and the role of perception in the current environment.

Parochka: CME professionals could ask for assistance from an experienced colleague (check sources listed in the 2008 Alliance for CME Membership Directory) to ensure that position descriptions and desired candidate characteristics reflect compliant practices. The Alliance for CME Web site offers descriptions for CME director, manager, and coordinator positions. Employment environments vary from one to the next, so CME professionals should modify the descriptions based on their work setting.

Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACME, is president, Indicia Medical Education LLC, North Wales, Pa. Reach her at

Jacqueline Parochka, EdD, FACME, is president and CEO, Excellence in Continuing Education Ltd., Gurnee, Ill; and partner, PTR Educational Consultants.Reach her at