Not in my wildest imaginings did I think that the 2011 Alliance for Continuing Medical Education annual meeting would be this engaged with social media, technology, and 21st-century social learning!

In 2007 when I started the CMEAdvocate blog, I believed that the CME community needed to embrace new methods of sharing and learning. Looking back, it seems the community was not quite ready then for such a model of social learning.

In 2009, when I began tweeting as @CMEadvocate, I saw even newer forms of social media as having the potential to break down walls blocking the CME community. By then, the community was happy to embrace the concept of late adoption.

In 2010, as I spent an hour every evening testing social search strategies over dinner (My wife Megan is a saint!), I found new ways to connect the speed and breadth of new media with traditional channels of learning and sharing. And, finally, I found a small, but growing, cadre of like-minded CME professionals were beginning to connect, share, and learn from one another virtually.

Now, as I sit in my hotel room at 4 a.m. anxiously preparing for the last day of the 2011 annual meeting (#acme2011), I can honestly say this week has easily been the most rewarding of my professional career.

Emerging Technologies Committee—Though at times slow and methodical, the Alliance board has been listening attentively to the growing buzz around new technologies for learning and sharing. In response, the board formed the first new standing committee in recent memory. And on January 26th, the Emerging Technology Committee held its inaugural meeting. I am privileged to chair this committee of technophiles, early adopters, and card-carrying geeks—and we are all committed to supporting the Alliance membership.

Real-Life Examples—On the same day, nearly 200 attendees packed a room to learn from six cases studies on how organizations are using social media to support CME initiatives. I congratulate Alicia Sutton, CCMEP, Omnia Education Inc.; and Jan Perez, CCMEP, CME Outfitters, for pulling off a near-perfect introduction to the practical application of these technologies. And, over the course of the meeting, I sat in on several other crowded sessions focusing on social media and technology in education.

Community and Leadership Buzz—Perhaps most promising was the preliminary data suggesting that the community of CME tweeters and bloggers is up nearly 1,500 percent since the 2010 annual meeting. See the tweet archive at for examples of distance learning, asynchronous learning, retweets, and the first-ever Alliance tweet-up. Even the Alliance’s leaders were tweeting from San Francisco, including incoming Alliance President George Mejicano, MD (@badgergeorge), Advocacy Chair Bob Addleton, EdD (@pblearner), and outgoing Finance Chair Maureen Doyle-Scharff (@mdoylescharff).

The best part about this progress is that it is about us seeing that we can share, teach, and learn in new and exciting ways, and not a result of a formal initiative. I encourage you to join in.

Brian S. McGowan, PhD, has dedicated the past 12 years to medical education as a faculty member, mentor, accredited provider, and commercial supporter. The opinions expressed are McGowan’s and do not represent the views of his employer, Pfizer Inc. Contact him via Twitter: @CMEadvocate.

More of Brian's columns

Getting Started with Social Media
Meet and Tweet
Why CME Should Embrace Social Media
The Great ASCO Tweetup
Social Networking and CME