I WALKED AWAY from this year's CME Congress in Toronto with 35 pages of single-spaced typed notes, a stack of handouts, and a head stuffed to bursting. The ideas, the research, it all was fascinating — and I can't remember the last time I went to a session where the questions were just as interesting as the presentation.

And, since I was working on this issue's cover story at the time, I was paying more than the usual attention to the formats used in the various sessions. I have to say that interactivity was rampant; every session incorporating something, be it small group, Q&A, or cases.

Even the hour-long lectures rocked: If all the lectures docs go to were as engaging as the one given by Donald Melnick, MD, senior vice president, National Board of Medical Examiners, I can see why they love them. I can't explain what made it great — you really did have to be there — but I was just nodding my head wildly when Dave Davis, MD, associate dean, Continuing Education, University of Toronto, said in our phone interview, “If you said ‘lecture’ to me, and I thought of Melnick's, I'd say great.”

But I fear the Melnicks of the world are few and far between. That's why I loved it when Don Moore, PhD, associate professor of medical education and administration; director, division of CME, with Vanderbilt University, said during our interview, “The most important thing to do is faculty development. They may want to do more problem-based, interactive things, but they don't know how. It's a whole different skill set.” Vanderbilt is working with its top educators, and Moore says, “They want to learn more. I think we just need to find people in our own environment who are interested in improving their teaching skills. Once they change and people see the results, it will spread throughout the community.”

As Joe Green, PhD, associate clinical professor, Duke University School of Medicine and founder and president of the Professional Resource Network Inc., says, “Most physicians may be comfortable giving a lecture for an hour, but what matters is what's effective for the audience, not what's comfortable for the faculty. You don't need to make a huge change — just using Q&A, audience response systems, and case studies will make it more effective. Just look at what you can do with faculty who don't want to change their processes, and find incremental ways to make them a little better.”

Have you found a way to teach your teachers? Share your successes with the rest of us, and watch them ripple out.

Sue Pelletier, (978) 448-0377, spelletier@primediabusiness.com