While talk of a certification program developed specifically for medical meeting planners has been circulating for years, the Professional Meeting Planners Network, Durham, N.C., decided in October to do more than talk. It is in the beginning phase of developing a certification program that will measure medical meeting planners' knowledge about the specific regulatory issues involved in these types of meetings, as well as logistics.

PMPN CEO Jim Melton points out that the current government and media scrutiny make it imperative that physician medical education programs are implemented in compliance with all laws, regulations, guidelines and, in general, are above and beyond reproach.

“In the current environment, providers and commercial supporters will expect well-trained third parties who can assist in ongoing and successful compliance,” he says. “In addition to assuring compliance, [this certification] will help make these programs more credible to physicians, the media, and regulators.”

With the help of a content advisory board that includes experts in meeting logistics as well as in medical content, including the Accreditation Council for CME rules, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, and the Office of Inspector General's pharma compliance guidance, PMPN plans to use its network of more than 600 planners as a beta test group during the development phase of the program.

The company will work closely with those responsible for the CMP and CMM certification, as well the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education and other related organizations. The plan, at present, is to exempt those holding a current CMM or CMP designation from those portions of the exam that relate to generic meeting management topics.

Industry veteran and PMPN founder Rod Abraham, the program's project director, says, “The time is right and we will do it right with the guidance of an impressive Content Advisory Board chaired by medical/adult education expert Jim Leist.” Leist, who has a doctorate in education and is a consultant and former chair with the ACME, is joined on the board by Jann T. Balmer, PhD, director, Office of Continuing Medical Education, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Va., and a board member of the ACME; Joseph S. Green, PhD, president, Professional Resources Network, Chapel Hill, N.C., and former chair, ACME; Robert E. Kristofco, MSW, associate professor and director, Division of Continuing Medical Education, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Ala.; Barbara McManus, CMP, vice president, meetings management and human resources, Embryon Inc., Somerville, N.J.; and Freda Monk, CMP, owner, Meetings & Events Management, Humble, Texas.

Abraham says that further details will be announced once they are carefully reviewed by the CAB, legal counsel, and focus groups representing all who have a stake in the delivery of medical meetings. Look for more details in the January/February 2006 issue of Medical Meetings, and at the Alliance for CME meeting in San Francisco.