Alliance Annual Conference Highlights From the Alliance Past President and 2018 Conference Chair

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Alliance Annual Conference! We hope you had a wonderful time networking with your peers, and learning valuable insights to implement at your organization. We'd like to thank  our past President, Gayla Bruner, and 2018 Conference Chair, William Mencia for all they did to make the 2018 Alliance Annual Conference a success. Read below to hear their highlights from the Annual Conference. 


It was wonderful to see so many friends and colleagues in Orlando for the 43rd Annual Conference in January! For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you and hope to see you next year. From the beginning to the end this year, there was an incredible amount of positive energy, enthusiasm, and camaraderie that highlighted the best of who and what the Alliance is. The Alliance is an organization of highly talented and motivated people striving for improvement in healthcare education and willing to share with and encourage one another.  

So, now we’re back to work!  The bags are unpacked and the emails cleared out, time to get back to our daily missions. I’m hoping that all of you had as many wonderful take-away’s from the Annual Conference as I did this year. That is what really makes the conference a “must-not-miss” event. 

The keynote presentation on Sunday by “e-Patient Dave” deBronkart and Dr. Daniel Sands really set the stage for this year’s theme – Destination Patient Outcomes:  Our Journey to Improving Patient Care.  Their “role-play” format emphasized the way interaction should be between patients and providers and who couldn’t love the “I Got You Doc/Patient” song at the end? The panel discussion afterward allowed a large group to stay and consider how their key points could be implemented in educational programs everywhere. 

The presentation on Monday morning by Ann Christensen, “Will You Be the Disruptor or the Disrupted?” was a call to engage educators in the healthcare professions to take a serious look and our environment, learners, and business plans so as to be prepared to succeed in changing times.

While there were so many wonderful sessions that I wasn’t able to attend, the Conference “app” for my mobile device was user-friendly (for even me), and I have opened it several times since I have been home to find notes, slides, and titles that I can use now. I found very useful information in sessions with patient focus, interprofessional themes, MACRA/MIPS information, updates on the current opioid epidemic, and the list goes on. 

Congratulations again to all the award winners! The Awards celebration that started off our week was such a great party and it allowed us to recognize our leaders and mentors and show our appreciation. Only if you stayed until the very last session were you able to see the presentation of the Cornerstone Award to Dr. Norman Kahn. The award was created to recognize Dr. Kahn’s dedicated service as a key collaborator, educator, ardent supporter, advocate, and friend of the Alliance. Dr. Kahn recently completed his term as EVP and CEO for the Council of Medical Specialty Societies but will continue his work with the Conjoint Committee on Continuing Education.   

Thank you again to everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s conference such a success. See you in next January at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD.

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There is one word that sums up the 2018 Alliance Annual Conference…Celebration! Over 1,100colleagues and peers gathered to celebrate our collective achievements, our history, our mentors, our learners, and those they serve…the patient. From the Opening Awards Dinner to the final plenary session, we listened, shared ideas, laughed, and even learned.

The Alliance Annual Conference started in a new way in 2018, with the Opening Awards Dinner followed by the President’s Dessert Reception. One could feel the energy in the room as we watched the awards ceremony unfold and discovered all of the innovation and passion our members imbue into their educational designs. We greeted our friends who were celebrated for their leadership and for their years of dedication to the Alliance.

There were three awards, however, that in my humble regards really stood out and exemplified the uniqueness of our community. We celebrated Bob Fox with the Miller-Wentz Lifetime Achievement Award, who shared many interesting lessons and stories from his, shall I say, legendary career. Mentorship through Carol Havens as recipient of the Francis M. Maitland Mentorship Lecture and Award, who asked us to recognize that our role in the education of the healthcare professions should be more than a job or a career, it is a calling. Finally, we had a special guest in Colonel Nicholas Gist, PhD, who received the Distinguished Leadership and Service Award in honor of his “Aunt Deb,” Debra Gist, who passed away last year after a battle with cancer. The Alliance Board of Directors created this new award to memorialize Debra’s dedication and commitment to the CEhp community, and each year it will be given to an individual who exemplifies Debra’s special qualities as well as personal and professional commitments. Through Colonel Gist we learned not only how Debra shaped his life through love and mentorship, but also how much she helped shape ours.

The Alliance Annual Conference also included over 70 abstract-based sessions, 10 invited sessions, and a late-breaking hot topics two-part panel on the role continuous professional development can play in helping to stem the opioid crisis currently affecting millions of people in the United States. Members from different public health, accrediting, and clinical institutions flew in from various parts across the country to take part in a two-hour dialogue on educational endeavors currently underway, and how we can tap into these programs to help our own learners.    

The Annual Conference also included other “firsts” beyond the Opening Awards Dinner and Leadership and Service Award. Attendees were offered at least three networking opportunities each day, all while not conflicting with the education. This response to past conference suggestions was just one of the many ways that the committee listened to your comments in an effort to make the experience more fruitful for the attendees. In addition, we added panel discussions each morning where representatives of the various member sections sat down with the keynote presenters and discussed practical applications on how to incorporate the keynotes’ vision into our everyday workplace mission. Also, we added a call for actionable takeaways to be provided by the speakers at every session.  

The conference theme was centered on the patient. As educators, we see our roles as improving the knowledge, competency, skills, and performance of our learners as clinicians. However, who does that ultimately impact and whose outcomes are we really trying to improve? If you answered the patients’, then you are correct! Many of the sessions focused on our role in healthcare education in engaging, empowering, and educating the patient as a full-fledged member of the healthcare team. We should be very proud of our community, as the sessions demonstrated how far we’ve come by showcasing educational platforms that taught clinicians how to better involve and communicate with their patients and that taught patients directly to show them how to share in their healthcare decisions. More importantly, patient-level outcomes were not the exception anymore. Just five to ten years ago many of us were wondering if we could ever take our outcomes to Moore’s Level 5 (performance), with Level’s 6 (patient improvements) and 7 (community-based improvements) seen as these “myths” that theoretically existed in a strange pyramid-like symbol. Well that myth is now our reality and what a great reason for celebration.

The first full day of the conference began with a special, and dare I say unique, keynote presentation by the distinguished duo of Dr. Danny Sands and “e patient Dave” deBronkart who shared with us through role play how the patient can become the most powerful resource in healthcare. Their call to action to teach clinicians (and patients/caregivers) how healthcare must evolve in the internet age, to be informed, to seek out evidence and information, and to become partners through shared decision-making. Lest I forget, what other keynote presentation has ever ended in song, with Dr. Danny and Dave singing their rendition of “I’ve Got You Babe” to highlight the transformative and disruptive innovation being brought about by the participatory medicine movement. Only one way that could have ended, as a rousing standing ovation.

Speaking of disruptive innovation, the second day began with Ann Christensen, MBA, who is President of the Christensen Institute, and whose message of disruptive innovation in healthcare through the “jobs to be done” theory left a lasting impression. Our healthcare arena is changing rapidly as new sectors take over the traditional roles of the centralized healthcare institution. Retail clinics and urgent care centers are threatening the primary care establishment, and the emergence of new technologies are creating challenges regarding their integration into existing systems and regulations. The “job to be done” by our traditional clinical system is rapidly evolving, and my personal takeaway is that those who don’t plan ahead for these changes and adapt their educational models to the changing healthcare environment may be “left behind,” a lesson Ann shared from several other industries who have undergone similar challenges to the marketplace.

The closing plenary focused on these takeaways where members, along with the conference planning committee, shared what they learned from the sessions and keynotes, and how they planned to implement these lessons back home. Indulge me for a moment as I share what I felt was the most meaningful takeaway from the conference, a lesson learned in one of the invited sessions that included a panel of Orlando area clinicians to gather their perceptions on how they use CPD activities to aid their lifelong learning. The clinicians all agreed that education should not teach “everything,” because they won’t remember it. The value in CPD activities in their minds is to create that moment of connectedness when they face a specific patient encounter, are unsure of next steps, and then “DING,” that nugget that they heard in the CPD activity is linked and they know where to look next for the information. My actionable takeaway is to discover new ways to create those “DINGs” in our education and create the link to for the clinicians to know where to look for the information that they need at the point of care.    

While the 2018 Alliance Annual Conference may now be in our respective rear view mirrors, the learning experiences are not soon to be forgotten. It has been a privilege over the past 18 months to serve alongside so many talented and brilliant individuals on the annual conference planning committee, Alliance staff, and Alliance Board of Directors in serving your needs as members attending the conference. This shared experience among so many who, in Carol’s words, have found their calling in CPD, was truly a labor of love and I am forever grateful to all of them for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Thank you for making the 2018 Annual Conference memorable and for the humble opportunity to serve all of you. Have a productive 2018 and see you in 2019 Alliance Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD.


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