Fifteen months ago, CME providers were scrambling to provide whatever information they could to help clinicians deal with what had suddenly become the hot topic, for the worst reason: terrorism. At the October 2001 Scientific Assembly of the American College of Emergency Physicians, sessions like "Derm and Doom" (about the cutaneous manifestations of likely biological and chemical agents) were standing room only. That same month, the University of Alabama at Birmingham launched a bioterror CME Web site featuring anthrax and smallpox lesion screensavers that garnered 1,300,000 hits in its first year. And the CDC trained 1,731,000 health care professionals about anthrax using videoconferencing, videos, webcasts, and CD-ROMs.
The interest remains high, but the focus has changed somewhat--from the "disease of the day" to an underlying new awareness of how to deal with the spectrum of potential terrorist strikes. "We will always have the immediate broadcast, the just-in-time learning," says Maureen Lichtveld, MD, MPH, and associate director for workforce policy and planning at the CDC. "But what you really want is that sustainable learning so you can get sustained performance. This is not passing a test and moving on and then forgetting all you've learned. This is about making sure you can function consistently and effectively in a terrorism event."
Look for more on bioterrorism CME in the March/April issue of.