Resource Center

Putting the ‘We’ into CME

Over the course of writing #SocialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview dozens of clinicians who expressed the challenges they face with lifelong learning. As currently designed, the great majority of medical education opportunities provide isolated learning experiences – a single clinician attends a live meeting unaware of the other learners who may attend, or they register for an online educational activity without the benefit of sharing the learning experience with the hundreds of other learners who have also participated. It seems that this model of developing and delivering education for individuals learners, while perhaps easier to design, fails to address one of the most critical of the four natural learning actions…and without some semblance of a social learning opportunity, the impact of the education is limited.

More recently I spoke with a friend and colleague (Dr. Tim Hayes, President of AcademicCME) who shared a fascinating story of how he came to fully leverage medical education in an unintended way, and by doing so he found that everything he had come to expect from his participation in CME could be enhanced with a little help from his friends. ArcheMedX Cohort Based Learning

In an abstract that Tim and I recently submitted for the ACEhp14 annual meeting we have deconstructed his educational evolution and are planning to present a new model of team-based or ‘buddy CME’ where learners come together to learn together, to share with each other, and to validate the collective learning so that changes can be more easily implemented in practice.

This new approach firmly places the ‘we’ in CME.

Here are the details of our proposed plan:

Based on more than 20 years of engaging in CME to maintain his competency one surgeon describes his journey and how with the help of some friends he finally figured out a lifelong learning process that allowed him to effectively implement new lessons into practice.

Case Study: When implementing new data into daily practice a physician learner will run new information by their most respected colleagues within their hospital and community.  This serves two purposes: 1) to obtain multiple second opinions from trusted partners and mentors to assure scientific rigor, and 2) since most healthcare is team delivered and the outcomes are peer reviewed, to obtain acceptance as a new standard of care in one’s practice environment.

This is a vital step before changes in practice behavior occur. One should appreciate that if this step is unsuccessful, the result will be no change in practice from the recent CME experience.

Medical education professionals can design practical tools for CME planning and delivery that aide the learner with dissemination of new information. Additionally, this presents opportunities to engage the physician learner’s ‘buddy system’ to extend reach into the learner’s community. This segment for professional advancement will address such topics as, learner recruitment that rewards colleague and group attendance, practical online summaries that learners can appropriately distribute, creating opportunities to present your CME program again to a community group, and begin the vetting process by allowing learners to debate the application of new data with fellow learners during the CME activity, either live or on line. 

There are tremendous parallels between the team-based learning models that Tim evolved as part of his own lifelong learning journey and the collaborative learning architecture that we have pioneered at ArcheMedx, but this is far more than a promotional message. By communicating models such as these the CME community at large may find opportunities within their own programs to support the learners’ intrinsic need to be social in their own practice improvement. And, through the collaborative research efforts that we have shaped with Dr. Hayes, we may be that much closer to putting the ‘we’ into CME.

Brian S McGowan, PhD

Written by

Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

Leave a Comment