Medical Writer Update

Keeping in Touch

Volume 2, Issue 1—February 2011


Alliance Meeting Focuses on the Future  


Just attended my third Alliance for Continuing Medical Education (ACME) annual meeting, and I find that ironic, considering that when I attended my first meeting four years ago in Orlando, many of my medical writing colleagues wondered why I was throwing myself into CME. They predicted the demise of the market given the bad press CME was getting, industry consolidation, and political pressures.


Well, after an intense few days in San Francisco I’m here to say that nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the industry has consolidated; many for-profit medical communication companies that straddled the line between accredited CME and promotional education are now gone or reinvented as completely different entities. Yes, a few large pharmaceutical companies say they will no longer fund grants from for-profit companies, but they are still supporting CME, just via a different route.


So this year’s meeting seemed more upbeat than the others I’d attended. For one, the Alliance announced a new strategic plan to focus not just on physician education, but also on continuing education, offering more opportunities for all of us.


Second, I was struck by the creativity the field is bringing to previously dull, didactic CME via social networking, partnerships, interactivity, and hands-on training. There was even buzz about a potential new arena for CME: Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which requires that drug manufacturers demonstrate that the benefits of their products outweigh the risks. You can read some thoughts about REMS here.


So, I have to agree with what Medical Meetings blogger Sue Pelletier wrote after the conference: “I don’t remember ever leaving the conference feeling so hopeful about the future of the CME enterprise. . . ”


I also saw more fellow medical writers at the meeting than I’d seen at any previous meeting. Is this a sign that CME providers are finally realizing that professional writers like us have an important role to play? Let’s hope so!


Back to the meeting. My favorite session focused on bringing interactivity into CME programs, whether in simple ways, by asking the audience questions verbally or through audience response systems, or in more creative ways, such as engaging them in a game like Jeopardy.


Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I presided over a panel on the role of medical writers in CME. The panel included fellow medical writer Heather Haley and, representing the client side, Deanna M. Heier, PhD, operations director for Clinical Care Options, a CME provider based in Reston, VA.


And even though our session was up three flights of stairs and down a dark hallway, we had about thirty people attend, many of who were surprised to find out what medical writers can do for them.


I’m already putting together proposals for next year’s conference in Orlando. Needs assessment training, anyone?


On The Blog  


As the debate over health care reform continues (to repeal or not to repeal?) I’ve weighed in with my own two cents over the sub-debate regarding paying physicians who counsel Medicare patients about end-of-life issues. You can read my decidedly opinionated thoughts here.


Coming Up


As an unusually icy winter melts (hopefully) towards spring, I’m looking forward to appearing as a speaker at the American Medical Writer Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter’s 11th annual Freelance Workshop on April 2nd, where I’ll speak about the “Ten Hottest Skills for a Freelance Medical Writer in 2011.”


This year, I’m already booked to cover the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) meeting in Washington, DC in May; the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual meeting in Orlando in October; and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) meeting in Chicago in November. Keep me in mind if you need meeting coverage from these or other medical meetings and I promise to update you via newsletter on what I learn at these meetings.


Have a great month!



From the Blog


FDA Newest Target in Avoiding “Government Takeover” of Healthcare


The Importance of End-of-Life Planning and Care



Debra Gordon, MS



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