>>SINGER: Hi, I’m Steve Singer, I’m the Director of Education & Outreach at the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.
>> JACOBS: Hi my name is Ginny Jacobs, I’m the Director of the Office of Continuing Medical Education at the University of Minnesota.
>>SINGER: Ginny, you work at the University of Minnesota
>> JACOBS: I do.
>>SINGER: can you tell me a little bit about the way in which CME works at the University of Minnesota, who’s involved? How is it structured?
>> JACOBS: Certainly. I head up the office of continuing medical education and our group reports to the Vice-Dean of education, who overseas the entire educational continuum. So, undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education. We have a very dedicated staff of professionals, who in essence put together accreditation and meeting services for over 220 activities in a given year. We have a variety of activities that span from regularly scheduled series to distance learning activities. We do a fair amount of enduring materials. We, also, partner with a number of organizations, internal departments, as well as, outside sponsors. And we also offer full services for a large number of conferences over the span of the year.
>>SINGER: So, it’s a large program
>> JACOBS: I hope I made that point
>>SINGER: suffice to say
>> JACOBS: Yes,
>>SINGER: Yeah. So, we’re talking today about the role that physicians play, sort of a unique role that physicians do play or can play in CME department and within their organization to promote CME as a Bridge to Quality. And also, as an asset to sort of the processes for planning and implementing CME. So, tell me a little bit about the way in which physicians are involved or maybe historically: How were they involved? How are they involved now?
>> JACOBS: Sure, well, admittedly there’s quite a spectrum as you might imagine of individual physicians and the level to which they understand education, for starters. We have some exceptional course directors, and a large number of planning committee members, who certainly bring a lot of their expertise from a clinical standpoint. It isn’t always entirely true that they offer an educational background, so, I view the role that we play as literally collaborating with them in order to help blend their expertise and put it in a context that pays attention to how learners best learn. Pays attention how we measure whether or not there’s an impact and I think we make a good team in that sense. I have to say that I think the successful course directors and members of our faculty have been those that have really considered CME as not so much an individual activity as much as part of an educational process. I think the fact that, for many it’s a stretch for them to consider the evaluation piece as nothing more than an extension of their planning. But, that is really what we want them to do and think of it again in a broader much more of a system’s view of: How do we make improvements in health care as a whole? Education is clearly the link, we talk about a Bridge to Quality, we are trying very hard to make that point and help individuals basically embrace that as well.
>>SINGER: OK. So, you’ve said, you read the party line in terms of a CME leader, seeing CME as a Bridge to Quality, using CME as a process not as an endpoint, not as a perk but as a change agent. So, now let’s sort of take it down from the big picture and let’s focus on a certain process, a certain meeting, or some experience that you’ve had recently, in which, you know, the, you know, the rubber’s hit the road and you’re actually doing this with physicians. Because I’m interested to know from a daily work standpoint how you manage this interaction and how you get physicians engaged in this processes.
>> JACOBS: Well, I know that the new Criteria talk a lot about collaboration at all levels and that
>> JACOBS: is sometimes at a very large and global level and at the same time it does come down to the individual interactions. So, we build relationships with course directors who have, again, extensive command for their clinical areas, as I mentioned, that alone isn’t enough, and so, we in working through a process really try to be more formal in all steps of the planning. I think that, we know that a lot of the individuals we work with are extremely busy people and in the past I’d have to say there was a tendency to not want to burden them, so to speak, with the CME portion of what they do. You know, we didn’t want it to get in the way, we didn’t want them to be bothered with what some might have labeled administrative trivia. It’s far from that though, one thing we’ve worked, again, hard to do, but by now means are we finished, is a work in progress, we are really trying to establish more of an understanding that CME is not about the forms; it’s about what the forms are intended to drive in terms of change. So, we basically have taken on wearing hats of: How do we facilitate and drive change within organizations? Previously, I think, we had a very short term approach to our planning where again busy people and the course would lead to a successful conclusion and then as it happens people disperse and it isn’t always that you have a chance to capture some of the best learnings. So, we’ve now implemented a more formal process whereby we measure the impact and I’m talking about it at different levels.
>>SINGER: So, I hear that what you’re describing almost sounds like a strategic management process. And when you say formal you’re no so much talking about, as you said, forms or busy work, but a structure and almost like a discipline to look at yourselves as a team and say, here’s what we’re trying to achieve with our CME. And now, we have to take some time sort of in this process, sort of a circular process, like plan, do, study, act. Between planning activities and seeing whether they were effective, to take the time to say, Are we doing the right thing? Is this the right approach? Are we creating the change that we want to change? Is that, am I?
>> JACOBS: yes. In fact, I think that a good way to describe it is that: plan, so, study, act. From the standpoint of that circular process one that really never ends. As soon as we wrap up a conference our thoughts are towards: What just happened? What have we gained? From a learner perspective, how could we enhance the experience that people have had? From the standpoint of time and measuring over time, we don’t want to leave those pearls of wisdom
>> JACOBS: we want to build on that and try to envision a method by which we can continually check back in on some of those key metrics.
>>SINGER: So, returning back to where we started about the scope of your sort of the CME enterprise within the University of Minnesota, do you see that there is, is there recognition from the patient care end and quality side of the fruits of these efforts in terms of this formal process of planning? Are you seeing some engagement form the other side around those issues?
>> JACOBS: Yes. And I think the steps there have been baby steps. But, I do see that there’s a great opportunity for us to do a better job of linking with that kind of information. I mean, it points the sign to where we really need to put our efforts. One of the key issues within our university setting at the moment, and I don’t think it’s unique at all to us, is that we’ve done a good job, I think, of serving a lot of people in a variety of ways and in the current constraints that we face with regard to budget, such that they are, we’re really having to do a better job of strategically aligning some of those priorities. We can’t be all things to all people
>> JACOBS: as we might wish. So, some of the indicators that exist within health care and quality issues in general certainly help to highlight where we ought to be, certain to devote some attention and put some resources.
>>SINGER: Thank you.
>> JACOBS: You’re very welcome.
This is a transcript of The Role of Physician Volunteers in CME.
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