Our Stories

"There have been great societies that didn't use the wheel,
but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." - Ursula LeGuin



On a recent call with expert faculty and learners to discuss curriculum, questions were asked of the learners about current practices and reasoning behind the practices.  The expert faculty member listened and asked pertinent questions of the learners.  When the call was over the expert faculty member stayed on the line to debrief with a few educators.  This expert began explain how this process of discussing content with the learners gave him a new appreciation for educating based on learner needs.  He stated, “This will change the way I educate physicians both at CME events and the medical center.” – Chris Larrison, Healthcare Performance Consulting

I think one of the greatest experiences I've had with CE is the outcomes evaluation of 3 interprofessional rural health projects. We did one year follow-up interviews of NPs and MDs after live educational programs.  With that much time between program and evaluation, I frankly admit that I was worried that the learners would have forgotten they were even IN the programs!  Such was not the case.  One year after completing, both the MDs and the NPs a) gave explicit examples of how they had used the information to change the way they initially evaluated patients and followed them and b) gave us great examples of things patients were doing to self-manage their disease at a higher level as a result of the information and tools from our program.  A couple of our learners had developed other tools to use with patients, and sent them in to us to share with future learners.  It was a GREAT experience and we were so thrilled.  Phyllis Zimmer, Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation

Years ago as a young manager I attended a conference on management skills and styles. The faculty lectured on different management styles, skills needed to be a manager, your own professional growth. We sat, took notes, had our small group discussions, took a quiz. The final speaker of the day stood up and said there are 3 kinds of employees- water walkers, bridge builders and brick layers- and told us the key to successful management was making sure you had the right proportions of each. The water walkers were those rare individuals out with the divining rod looking for water then making it spring forth from the ground. Too many water walkers and you don't know which way to go. The bridge builders connected the path from those water walkers back to the brick layers. Without the bridge builders the brick layers wouldn't which way to lay the path.  Almost 25 years later I still evaluate every project for the right mix of water walkers, bridge builders and brick layers. I can't remember who the faculty member was or even where I was, but practical bite sized nuggets of wisdom stay with you forever. – Mary Ales, Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association

For ten years I have been a planner and faculty member in the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s biannual workshop, “Presentation Skills for Emerging Faculty.”  We could barely come up with 20 nominees at the outset of this program.  We just held the most recent workshop, where we had a cohort of 25 participants selected from a much larger pool of nominees.   More than 100 young (at least younger than me) educators are now “emerging faculty,” who willingly give their time to the ACCF as teachers, committee members, and volunteers.  The workshop still features improvement in presentation skills, including “real-time” practice with feedback, but perhaps the most important—and unanticipated—outcome of the program is the networking and peer-bonding that has occurred with each cohort.  Health professions education doesn’t exist without the educators, and these persons represent our future.  We are in good hands! – Marcia Jackson, Education by Design

Ten years ago, I was involved in a variety of endeavors including often serving as CME faculty for various physician specialty groups.  It was long before I’d become the CME Director for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Much of my work involved clinical leadership development with cardiologists, surgeons, etc.  Anyway, I was invited to lead a session at the AAFP’s annual scientific assembly, and was told that as faculty, I would be expected to convey to learners the evidence basis (research) for the recommendations that I would be sharing.  I thought that was great! And wondered why every organization that engaged my services wasn’t requiring me to provide evidence.  Now, years, later, I remain passionate about ensuring that continuing education for health professional is evidence-based.  And in my own lifelong learning experiences, if the faculty hasn’t disclosed the evidence base for their recommendation, I’m likely to ask for the information.  In my role at the AAFP, I encourage my staff,  our faculty, and the CE community overall to contribute to the educational research that guides what to all do – for patients’ sake! – Mindi McKenna, PhD, MBA, American Academy of Family Physicians

A patient of a physician who attended our CME activities on asthma, a young boy, who was 10-years-old at the time, told his doctor that he could now join his friends playing soccer in the school yard because of his new medication for his asthma. – Linda Raichle, PhD, Spectrum Medical Education

My first job out of college was working for a juvenile court judge, an incredible educator.  The judge always provided key themes to his audience and used stories, props, and his incredible passion for the betterment of children and families in the delivery of his message.  To this day, I am able to recall both the themes and stories from his presentations. – Robyn Snyder, American College of Cardiology

As a provider, I was involved in a stroke prevention initiative that included education and screening in our community.  One of our participants was having a stroke during the education and was taken to the ER for immediate intervention.  – Dixie Blankenship, Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association

As a provider/teacher my best educational experience was a recent year-long class of 27 primary care practices engaged in achieving recognition at patient-centered medical homes.  Why?  1.  It was a perfect “teachable moment” – they wanted this learning, we arranged for them to get it, and they applied it immediately.  At the graduation, each practice shared what the experience had meant to them emotionally, professionally, and how it improved patient care.  Not a dry eye in the house! – Bob Addleton, PhD, Physicians Institute for Excellence in Medicine

As a teacher: Every year I give a presentation on Sampling in my research class.  Many years ago, I began using M&Ms as a prop.  Every student gets several bags of M&Ms and we open them and count the colors.  This presentation has gotten huge numbers of “guest” students each year.  The students love it and I have a lot of fun teaching it.  Even now I have students who were at this lecture many years ago come up to me and tell me they still remember the learning points. – Jack Kues, PhD, University of Cincinnati

My favorite experience as a learner was the first Alliance meeting that I ever attended (January 1991). I had been in my job six weeks, and had a million questions. Everyone that I met was kind, helpful and positive.  I realized that I found a career that could challenge me, and give me the opportunity to improve care and patient outcomes. – Jann Balmer, PhD, University of Virginia

The Physicians' Institute has offered several two-day trainings focused on motivational interviewing – improving provider-patient communications.  Reactions from participants have been “A-Ha! … a new paradigm that can make a difference.  I’m going to change the way I talk to patients.”  Follow-up indicates MI has been embraced by the trainees and it has improved patient outcomes. Participants are actually enthusiastic about this new tool. – Adele Cohen, Physicians Institute for Excellence in Medicine

As a supporter, I funded live events where students from recovery high schools (post addiction) spoke from their perspectives on the on the use of various medications and gave the health care professionals ideas for helping to curb drug abuse, and change prescribing habits for the better.  – Marsha Stanton, PhD, Horizon Pharma

I was involved in a seminar on improving the teaching skills of pediatric nurses. The leader asked the audience to think of the most exciting, valuable, and useful learning experience they could remember . The main features of each mini learning story were posted on a flip chart.. The exercise over, the participants extracted the common principles that emerged from all these stories of excellent teaching. They agreed that these common features must be the "gold standard" of teaching. Here are some of the common principles that emerged from many such seminars. --The teacher was like a member of the group, a guide for learning activities rather than the main source of knowledge. --The learners had a pervasive sense of being independent in the process of learning. They turned to the "teacher" for occasional "boosts" but thought through to their knowledge goals much of the time by themselves, sometimes in conversations with other students, and in occasional inputs by their teacher-guides. The best teachers used probing questions to stimulate student thought and to help students to get over temporary learning barriers. The best teachers never answered questions directly--always helping learners to win through to the answers themselves. -- Kevin P. Bunnell, EdD, FACEHP, Former Alliance President

I've been involved with CME for 20+ years and have participated in planning many CME activities that were complex with an elaborate format. But the very best learning experience I saw was not at all sophisticated in format. One of the hospital CME chairman, a pathologist, facilitated an annual lung conference. He walked around the room as he was presenting cases, and very deftly pulled various locally known specialists into a spur of the moment panel by asking them questions related to their specialty that were relevant to the cases being presented. That impromptu action created a relaxed, informal atmosphere and the audience became very actively involved in discussion. It was one of the most relevant and effective learning experiences I've seen and many of the participants agreed by their comments on the evaluation form. -- Gloria Mawson, Banner Health

Back in 2006 I put together a presentation entitled "The Marriage of Quality Improvement and CME: A match made in heaven or shotgun wedding?" for the Med-Ed Congress. This was one of my first presentations on government data and CME. I followed that with "Performance Improvement: The offspring of CME and QI". The audiences must have learned something, since you can't go to a CME meeting without seeing these topics. Not a bad outcome. -- Bob Meinzer, NJ Academy of Family Physicians

The views and opinions expressed on this page are soley those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of The Alliance for CEHP and/or any/all contributors to this site.