See You for CME

Meetings remain an important component of continuing medical education.

By Thomas Patrianakos, DO, and Elizabeth Martin, MD
 

Continuing medical education (CME) is widely accepted in many countries as an essential way for physicians to acquire additional knowledge and skills after completing their formal training. Traditionally, these meetings and workshops have been some of the most popular and commonly used methods of obtaining CME credit, because they offer several theoretical benefits over other forms of continual education. Although there are now several other resources for obtaining CME credit, meetings will and should remain an important component of continuing education.1

AT A GLANCE

• Perhaps the greatest advantage of obtaining continuing medical education (CME) through live meetings is that participants can personally interact with experts from various fields.

• CME meetings allow attendees to interact with and learn from colleagues and peers.

• Participants can tailor their learning experience to concentrate on the topics that interest them, and they can choose the methods of information delivery from which they will benefit the most.

• Although financial support from industry has become common, strict guidelines help to represent all material equally and to avoid bias at CME meetings.

ACCESS TO EXPERTS

Perhaps the greatest advantage of obtaining CME through live meetings is that participants can personally interact with experts from various fields. After experts share lessons in a didactic setting, attendees can pose questions and receive responses in real time. Personal interactions with and instruction from experts can be invaluable, especially during wet labs or didactic sessions that require hands-on transferring of skills (Figure). Studies have shown that interactive educational meetings consistently tend to be more effective at promoting behavioral/practice changes among physicians.2 Learning from seasoned ophthalmologists during CME meetings permits a personal transfer of information and skills to participants.

TIME WITH PEERS

CME meetings allow attendees to interact with and learn from colleagues and peers. When new surgical approaches or treatment modalities are developed, a meeting is an excellent forum to talk to and learn from those who may be early adopters. Ophthalmology, especially glaucoma, is a fertile area for innovation, and it is important to share and learn from other physicians’ trials and tribulations. Casual conversations in between lectures or during lunch can stimulate ideas and foster camaraderie. CME meetings are also excellent opportunities to network with other professionals in the field and catch up with old friends. As careers lengthen, these educational events become pleasant opportunities for reunions.

PERSONALIZED LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Large CME meetings cover a breadth of subject matter, so participants can tailor their learning experience to concentrate on the topics that interest them the most. Moreover attendees can choose the methods of delivery from which they will benefit the most such as didactic sessions, video symposia, panel discussions, and hands-on wet labs. Studies using the interactive techniques common at meetings such as case discussion, role-play, and hands-on practice are generally more effective at changing practice outcomes than traditional lectures.3

Figure. Hands-on wet lab experience with experts facilitates the transfer and cementing of skills at a meeting in Chicago.

INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY

Although some critics have voiced concerns that the financial support provided by businesses may create an unconscious bias, planning committees work carefully to ensure a fair and well-balanced delivery of all material. Financial disclosures are required of all faculty members, and often, an independent party views presentations to ensure no bias is present. The latest machines, instruments, and products are introduced and reviewed during professional meetings. CME events foster the relationships between physician and industry, which creates a mutually beneficial environment for advancing the field. Providers and industry work together to enhance the care offered to patients. Enticing discounts are a bonus for meeting attendees.

CONCLUSION

Ophthalmologists can obtain CME credits via many avenues, but the benefits of attending a large or national meeting extend beyond credits. These events give attendees personal access to experts and provide an opportunity for interactive communication with other participants. Additionally, CME meetings offer a wide variety of subject matter and methods of transferring knowledge that can be tailored by each attendee. Although financial support from industry has become common, strict guidelines help to represent all material equally and to avoid bias at CME meetings. A great deal of effort is placed during the planning of CME meetings to ensure that the maximum amount of relevant information is transferred to each participant and that the educational objectives are met.

1. Bennett NL, Casebeer LL, Kristofco RE, Strasser SM. Physicians’ Internet information-seeking behaviors. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2004;24(1):31-38.

2. Bero L, Grilli R, Grimshaw JM, et al. Closing the gap between research and practice: an overview of systematic reviews of interventions to promote the implementation of research findings. The Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care Review Group. BMJ. 1998;317(7156):465-468.

3. Davis D, O’Brien MA, Freemantle N, et al. Impact of formal continuing medical education: do conferences, workshops, rounds, and other traditional continuing education activities change physician behavior or health care outcomes? JAMA. 1999;282(9):867-874.

Thomas Patrianakos, DO
• chair of ophthalmology, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Chicago
• (312) 864-5172
• financial interest: none acknowledged

Elizabeth Martin, MD
• resident, postgraduate year 4, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Chicago
• (312) 864-7825
• financial interest: none acknowledged

 

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