Medical meeting organizers and continuing medical education providers need a global game plan to address public health issues that cross national boundaries, said M. Roy Schwarz, MD, president of the China Medical Board in New York, during his keynote at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Global Alliance for Medical Education, held June 25 to 27 at the McGillClub in Montreal. The conference brought together about 100 CME professionals from around the world to discuss physician education trends and partnership opportunities. Schwartz pointed out that international problems such as famine, obesity, and bioterrorism require new health care education models, and urged medical meeting organizers to develop bold new ideas.
The plenary session on how physicians learn around the world focused on how important it is for planners to understand cultural differences in learning styles when developing educational activities. Mary Lou Fuller, PhD, professor emeritus, department of teaching and learning, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, said that taking the attitude that ‘We are all the same,’ and denying our differences is a form of cultural blindness. Educators need to walk the talk, she said, and make sure to design programs that meet the needs of attendees from different cultures.
Several speakers also discussed strategies for incorporating adult learning principles into education programs. Henry B. Slotnick, Ph.D., Ph.D., MM columnist, and visiting professor, School of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, pointed out that adult learners want practical solutions to problems they already have, and suggested that speakers engage attendees by asking them what they want to learn at the beginning of a session. For speakers who need an extra push to deviate one iota from their prepared lectures, try this idea: One meeting planner said he has e-mailed registrants before a conference asking them to identify the problems they’re having in their practices; he then sends the answers to program faculty and encourages them to tailor their presentations.
Fittingly, a game ended the GAME conference. After the last session, on proving CME’sto pharma companies, the presenters divided the group into teams; each was allocated a betting pool of 500 points. As in "Jeopardy," we had to place our bets before we heard the questions. Facilitators then asked questions, based on the session we had just heard. Each team arrived at a consensus as to the answers, and the panelists – acting as judges – scored our responses. The winning team received a prize. OK, so it was only a pen, but the exercise produced a lot of laughter and encouraged us to talk to each other and reflect on what we had learned.