Best Practices for CME Consulting
There are a number of resources available that discuss best practices when working with a consultant. The purpose of this article is to highlight some elements that may be particularly relevant to medical education consulting.
When searching for a consultant to assist with CME accreditation or reaccreditation, conflict of interest management, or improvements for your medical education program, the following are a series of questions to ask yourself:
- How would I describe the primary feeling of a successful consulting relationship? Collaborative? Supportive? Educational? Other?
- How often do I have time to connect with the consultant? Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
- How do I prefer to connect? Email, shared files, telephone, text messages?
- What are my priorities when working with the consultant? What are my deadlines?
- If the consultant will be asked to work with colleagues and/or physicians, how will I manage those interactions?
- Have I had experience working with consultants previously, and what did I learn that I can apply here?
Once you have a sense of your answers to these questions, you will be in a better position to select a consultant that matches your personality and expectations.
Optimizing Time with Consultant
Another way of saying this is, “get the most bang for your buck!” Clearly communicating the goals of the interaction in advance of time scheduled with the consultant, whether a brief phone call or an all-day meeting, is essential. Although formal agendas are not always needed, a set of bullet points can ensure all of your questions are answered.
If you are working on a deadline to produce a document (such as a self-study for the ACCME or similar accreditor), determine with the consultant how you will stay on track. Timelines and task lists may be enough when there are only a few people involved or when one person is controlling the interaction with the consultant. Project management tools may be useful when many people are contributing to the endeavor. Options include Excel, TeamGantt and Basecamp.
If you do not meet in person with the consultant, it may be useful to implement a file and/or screen sharing software to ensure you are both on the same page. Use of tools such as Box.com, Dropbox.com, Google docs, MeetingBurner and GotoMeeting can optimize your interactions and minimize email.
Personal Professional Development
One of the benefits of working with a consultant is the opportunity to talk with someone who speaks the same language and understands some of the challenges you face in maximizing your program’s effectiveness. If you have your own personal continuing professional development goals, share them with the consultant who may be able to include aspects of your goals in the scope of her work. For example, if you want to further develop your ability to facilitate and guide the CME Committee, the consultant could model such skills during a planning meeting or coach you in advance of a meeting.
Keeping these points in mind will help to nurture a mutually beneficial connection between yourself and your CME consultant.