A group of 11 item-writing subject matter experts in all things related to planning medical meetings met in Chicago May 5-7 to develop the exam that will be used for the Convention Industry Council’s healthcare subspecialty to the Certified Meeting Professional program. This brings the designation, which had been in the works since 2009 under the imprimatur of the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association until the CIC took it on in 2012, a giant step further toward becoming a reality.

According to Christina DeHaven, CMP, project manager, Universal WorldEvents, a subject matter expert in the area of global pharmaceutical meetings who took part in the exam-writing panel, the most important thing was to develop an exam that would be comprehensive and fair. “We had a lot of discussions around how to put together an exam that would be well-rounded, that would have a global scale as well as focus on U.S. regulations and laws, and that wouldn’t have so much emphasis on continuing medical education that someone in pharma wouldn’t be able to pass it.”

She adds that the scope is broad enough to encompass all types of healthcare meetings and, as is the case with the CMP exam, potential designees likely may have to learn things that lie outside their current job descriptions. “To pass the CMP you have to know about exhibits, even if you don’t do it as part of your job. We took the same perspective with this exam,” says DeHaven. Natalie Halsband, CMP, event planner, Continuing Education and Professional Development Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a subject matter expert in the area of CME activities adds, “Meeting planners who are involved in medical meetings have to navigate through accrediting bodies, pharma industry codes, and governmental health regulations. Missteps can have ethical, financial, and legal consequences. I am very pleased that CIC has recognized the need for a new designation, as it is one of the cornerstones that will ensure quality control in medical meetings.”

That’s why the panel was carefully crafted by CIC Certification Director Gayle Dahlman to include people from pharmaceutical companies, medical education companies, medical device firms, medical societies, suppliers, and medical schools, as well as members who hail from outside the U.S. The panelists were able to contribute substance from their broad individual experiences while taking advantage of the opportunity to enhance their own knowledge of medical meetings that they may not have practiced in their current role. Dahlman, who is spearheading the launch of the new designation, also attended the item-writing session, as did a representative from test development and delivery provider Prometric. 

To continue the forward momentum, the CIC now is looking for volunteers to help with the revision process. Reviewers must hold the CMP and be a SME in some aspect of healthcare meetings management. Once the questions are reviewed, refined, and whittled down to the 100 that will appear on the exam, the CIC will be seeking volunteers to serve as beta testers for the first exam, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2013. Beta testers must already have their CMP and have a minimum three years of experience working in the healthcare meetings field. These beta testers will be the first to earn the new designation.

Volunteering to help shepherd the new designation can be a learning experience in its own right, says DeHaven of her experience on the exam-writing panel. “It was a privilege to be part of the panel and it was a really worthwhile process for everyone involved.” Deborah Hinson, CPCE, of the Hinson Group notes, “I thought this would be an incredible opportunity to test my knowledge, engage with peers, and make new friends. It was all that and more. The process itself was both exhausting and rewarding but it gives me great pleasure to be able to say I've been a small part of creating our new healthcare sub-certification!” Dr. Jorge Bisteni, CMP, CMM, director general of B.P. Servimed in Mexico adds that “being part of this process was an honor” and he’s pleased to contribute to the professionalization of healthcare meeting planning. Susan Casey, CMP, CMM, president of SKB Event Management, says, “it’s important to continue to bring awareness and credibility to our profession.”

If you are interested in becoming either a reviewer or a beta tester, please contact Gayle Dahlman at cichq@conventionindustry.org.