A relative newcomer to the CME world and to the Alliance, Roxanne Bolinger, M.Ed., CHCP, CME manager of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine, has thrown herself into the fray, attending meetings, networking and joining the Quality Improvement Group. The Alliance caught up with this go-getter to learn more about what drives her passion for the organization and the CME profession.
How did you first get involved in CME?
While I am a relative newcomer to CME (just three years), I do come with a background in education and 25 years of healthcare reporting experience covering Capitol Hill. I find the ever-changing aspect of evidence-based science to be very rewarding. The fast paced nature of a CME event makes for no dull moments!
In my role as CME manager of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine, I oversee a robust continuing medical education program for our approximately 1,200 providers on staff. We have about 125 CME events a year, including grand rounds, tumor boards, journal clubs, standalone live events and enduring events. Our CME department has been accredited since 1997 through the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
Although we are a very small department, just me and my exceptional .5 CME assistant, Molly Caldwell, we have been greatly supported by our organization, especially by Dr. Christine Stabler, VP of Academic Affairs. Through her guidance and encouragement, as well as the invaluable feedback from our CME committee members, we upgraded to a user friendly CME learning management system that aids our physician users and also reduces tiresome paper processing on our end. Aligning informally with our quality department has meant the CME department is involved early on in system-wide initiatives to improve quality, patient safety and performance improvement.
Our department handles all aspects of the CME activity, from its creation to its completion. We do this by working directly with our course directors to refine the topic based on extensive needs assessment/gap analysis. We contact our speakers and work with them to develop the objectives and content and resolve any potential conflicts of interest. By personally attending all our events (except tumor boards and morbidity and mortality case conferences), we are actively involved, monitoring the proceedings and helping to direct the Q&A at the conclusion. At event completion, we review the evaluation results or ARS when used. Being so closely involved in the events is time consuming, but Molly and I wouldn’t have it any other way, as it keeps us intimately involved in all facets of our physician education.
What new initiatives are you pursuing?
We just started offering American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 2 points to our Department of Medicine Grand Rounds. These ABIM points have been eagerly awaited by our physicians and have the added benefit of engaging the audience in the interactive assessment held at the conclusion. Physician specialties that can’t use ABIM MOC points have stayed to participate in the interactive process.
We are also getting ready to trial an event called “Palliative Improv.” End of life care is a system-wide initiative at our organization, and we thought it would be interesting to position an educational event in an improv format – where speakers who know the general case but not the actual details can show attendees ways to have the “difficult conversation” with their patients. The unscripted, hands-on nature of this learning will be a departure for our speakers and audience, but we are hoping this will reap measurable change in physician performance.
Why did get you get involved with the Alliance?
I am very fortunate that the leadership at my organization is extremely supportive of education, allowing me to participate in vital educational programs. I began attending Alliance conferences immediately after I started in this position, simply to download as much knowledge as I could from the presenters and the other attendees. The collegiality of attendees I met at those meetings is such that whenever I have a question or concern, I can pick up the phone and get help. As I continue to grow and learn, the Alliance meetings are a great way to keep up-to-date with innovations at other organizations and take back creative initiatives presented there.
For those just joining the Alliance, I would suggest networking as much as you can at the meeting, collecting business cards and then following up when you get back home. I have found many times that a quick phone call to a new acquaintance can turn into a wealth of information for both parties – plus you might even make a new friend.
What has been your favorite part of working in this industry?
My favorite part of working in this industry is that it is very rewarding to see the fruits of our education make positive changes in physician competence, performance and patient outcomes. The most challenging aspect of the job is that while there are clear rules, there is not an “approved” way to adhere to them. However, I have come to see this as a benefit, as it allows for creativity and innovation, thus organizations can set up systems that work best for them.