(In this series, I discuss my personal experiences as a continuing medical education professional devoted to providing “Value-Added CME,” that is, medical education that is compliant with accreditation requirements, engages the learners, and ultimately leads to better care for all patients, including myself and my family.)
Value-Added CME – Our Identity in Crisis
Last week, when talking with someone totally unfamiliar with my profession, I was confronted with the ramifications of the recent negative publicity about Continuing Medical Education: he asked, “aren’t conferences for doctors just a place where they go to meet their girlfriends and get connected to the drug companies?” Now, his comment was made a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it certainly points to the massive identity problem we are facing.
What publicity, you ask? How about this article in the Atlantic about the Sunshine Act exemption of CME (nod to Derick Warnick, aka The CME Guy) in which the Atlantic quotes Ed Silverman as saying, “‘CME providers exist to facilitate the messages propagated by manufacturers … By deciding disclosure is not warranted, the administration is allowing a form of laundering to be sanctioned.'”
Another instance where professional misunderstanding comes into play: one of my hospital clients had to battle, I mean battle, with her legal department to get an honorarium check cut for a faculty presenter. This expert was brought in to provide 5 hours of intensive training, developed specifically for the organization, which required many hours of preparation. The CME Manager had followed the approved honorarium policy to the “t”. But the legal department was worried that paying the honorarium might violate Stark laws (i.e. be perceived as kick-backs)!
Who is responsible for educating the world about our profession? Anyone and everyone reading this! In the instance of my client, the CME Manager, she wisely took this experience as an opportunity to call a meeting with the legal and accounting department to review the policies and procedures regarding CME. Thomas Sullivan has been a loud advocate for CME during the Sunshine Act saga, on his excellent website, www.policymed.com. And in the instance of my (somewhat boorish) acquaintance, I straightened him out!