Evolving the Role of Educators in CME

Published Date

Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME, discusses evolving the role of educators in CME.


>>McMAHON: To best serve emerging generations of physicians and health care teams, we need to liberate continuing professional development from the traditional constraints. And together we have to engage in bold, innovative approaches to educational design and assessment. Continuing education is such a key asset in our effort to develop and create an effective, accessible and affordable health care system. Although medical educators like us are often ready, willing, and able to make a difference, we're often ignored. We have little career trajectory, we have few role models, and minimal resources. So we need to evolve as a community to really meet the needs of our learners. And there are three ways in which I'd like to see us evolve.

The first is moving beyond information conveyance. I say we need to promote a changed role for educators. In the past, the challenge of our physicians and educators was finding information, and we put on programs and clinicians attended programs to get information rather than practice updates. But now information is ubiquitous. And as a result the role for educators needs to change. The new expectation of educators is to create learning environments, where teachers and learners can actively engage in the type of problem-solving and discussion that brings context, wisdom and judgment to information. In that way clinicians can practice better, reliably, more effectively. We can't treat our learners as passive receptacles for information, so we have to liberate CME from the constraints of traditional, often lecture-based formats and presentations, and maximize the impact of educational patient care through using evolved mechanisms.

The second is really building relationships that provide an opportunity for longitudinal feedback. Learning and performance improvement is certainly maximized when learners can choose activities that meet their needs, engage in a high quality-experience with valid and relevant materials, and then have the opportunity to problem-solve, self-assess, compare themselves to others, and importantly, reflect. We have to be able to promote relevant individual, actionable feedback to the learner, and use the longitudinal relationships that we're creating to promote trust that allows them the individualized growth for learning. We're also operating in a world where there’s increasing demand for focused education because of increasing specialization. That has the potential to erode engagement in group discussion, and group discussions can be very powerful learning opportunities where clinicians can share, discuss, and where they can get individualized responses and personalized feedback that help them to grow.

So we've talked about information conveyance, we've talked about the importance of feedback and longitudinal development. What's the third? Well, the third is that we need to be able to define insights into multiple facets of education. Not just pedagogy and assessment, but data analysis, educational technology, quality improvement, and all of that in the context of the pragmatic challenges faced by clinicians every day. If we evolve into chief education officers or chief learning officers and can navigate this domain of bringing together resources, a knowledge of data, a knowledge of teaching and learning, to promote the management of the educational enterprise and use education strategically, manage resources and people, align quality improvement in education, and leverage educational strategies to achieve shared system goals, then we're really evolving.

So with these three approaches, moving beyond information conveyance, building relationships and feedback, and elaborating a role for educators, we can really together evolve CME and optimize the quality of care our community is able to deliver.