Meet a Member: Susan P. Tyler, M.Ed., CMP, CHCP, FACEHP

I tell people that I “happened into” exactly what I had always wanted to do with CME work. I’ve been in the field now for a long time, about 29 nine years. When I first started working in CME, I was hired as a conference coordinator and department manager for the CME office at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. I loved the job and the people that I got to work with. I was there for about 15 years, serving as the CME director for all but the first two years of that time, and then decided that I needed to see what else was out there. I found a job posting for manager of CME accreditation at the American Academy of Family Physicians and applied. It turned out that my colleague Nancy Davis was in charge of hiring there, and she was pleased to know that I was interested and available. I was with the AAFP for four years and loved it there. Then, our colleague Jack Kues from Cincinnati contacted me to see if I was interested in coming to be the CME director at the University of Cincinnati. I went over for an interview, not really expecting to make a change, but I really liked Jack and his staff and the work they were doing in Cincinnati, and realized that, as much as I enjoyed medical specialty society work, I did miss being in an academic setting. So I made the change to my current job.

I got involved with the Alliance early in my career when my first boss at San Antonio volunteered us to host the second CME Congress, and I thought I’d better get more familiar with CME at the national level. I have found my membership in the Alliance to be a valuable resource, and it has provided me with close friends and colleagues. I think I have only missed one Alliance meeting in all my career, and that was the year that the ACCME introduced the new accreditation system. I felt like I was playing catch-up for the whole next year. Lesson learned: don’t miss a single Alliance meeting!

It seems right to be in the Alliance Medical Schools section since I currently work in a medical school setting. It is great to have the opportunity to network during this part of the larger meeting with colleagues who hail from the same setting. I will occasionally visit one of the other sections’ meetings, just to get an idea of what they are doing. I was also involved in the Membership and Recognition Committee for a number of years and was chair of the Awards Committee for four years. I also served as an Alliance new member mentor for a number of years, too.

Like many of our colleagues, my organization is in the process of applying to become an MOC Portfolio Provider. We are also seeing how CME/CPD is morphing toward a more multidisciplinary approach to patient care and to learning, and we are exploring how we can use technology to improve our internal systems and processes as well as the services that we provide our learners. At the same time, I’ve been working on my doctoral research on “Physician Readiness for Change,” and hope that my findings may help inform the way we support physician and other health professional learners in their change and improvement processes.

CME that engages learners more completely and deals with information and skills that they need to provide better care for patients is definitely trending right now. We see that in performance improvement/quality improvement CME as well as in CME that requires learners to reflect on what they’ve learned and how they can use it in their practice. I have always thought that “take it and use it” continuing education is the best for learners. As we know from the adult education literature, adult learners prefer education that is meaningful for what they do can help them solve problems or improve how they do their work. They don’t have much patience for stuff that just takes up their time without being applicable or memorable.

After years of working in this field, I think my favorite part is the relationships that I have been able to build with colleagues, with staff, and with physician planners and learners. I see that so many of us share the interest in providing lifelong learning that can help improve the care of patients, or to identify novel educational approaches that can keep our learners up to date. I think these are the same things that keep me passionate about continuing to work in this field. I hope to keep doing it until it isn’t fun and challenging anymore!

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