Don’t put the cart before the horse. Before you decide on whether to take your activity live or online, simulation-based or case-based, figure out what you want your learners to come away knowing.

There are no shortage of single or mixed formats providers can use, including text-based print and online activities; local, regional, national, and televised/streamed live sessions; live, online, and simulated interactive, case-based instruction; and recorded audio and video presentations. Which to choose? The first step is to determine what you plan to accomplish, then match the format to that goal.

For example, if you are looking to raise awareness of new guidelines or the results of an important clinical trial, a print piece in a journal or online, or a live lecture would be a good fit. If one of your learning outcomes is to ensure that a clinical team will be able to function effectively in delivering patient care, however, you’re more likely to achieve that outcome if you use live or online interactive case-based instruction. For a tricky outcome, such as teaching nurses how to have constructive conversations with a physician colleague about his brusque manner in treating patients, simulation could join live or online case-based instruction that provides an opportunity for deliberative practice. Another format to consider is for learners to participate in role-playing, then everyone discusses what happened. If you don’t have the physical facility or time to do this with everyone, consider using the “fishbowl” method, where one group participates in the role-play in front of the audience, then everyone discusses what happened. If you use this method, however, be sure that you choose willing participants who will be comfortable playing out their roles in the “fishbowl.”

Some other elements to think about include whether to use text, audio, or video. The physician learning preferences survey found that 77 percent said they choose CME that’s available in a readable text format. “They like to go at their own speed,” said Geissel. Forty percent preferred audio and video formats. Less than one-third said they choose CME that is comprehensive but longer than 30 minutes, while 53 percent liked CME that takes less than a half-hour to complete. “If yours is longer, think about breaking it up into 30-minute chunks,” said Jackson.