>>SINGER: Hi, I’m Steve Singer. I’m the Director of Education and Outreach at the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.
>>FREEMAN: Hi, I’m Mel Freeman, I’m an ophthalmologist, I’m the Vice Chair of the Washington State Medical Association CME Committee. I’m a member of the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.
>>SINGER: Welcome Mel, nice to have you here.
>>FREEMAN: Thank you Steve, it’s a pleasure to be here.
>>SINGER: Alright, so you have your hand in many pots in our accreditation system. So, tell us a little bit about what you do currently.
>>FREEMAN: I’m the Vice-Chair of the Washington State Medical Association’s CME Committee.
>>SINGER: OK. And you are also a physician?
>>FREEMAN: I’m a physician, I’m an ophthalmologist.
>>SINGER: OK. So the, so you have a leadership role in your state accreditation committee. And for our audience if they’re not familiar there’s 2,000 health care organizations that are accredited within the ACCME system. The ACCME directly sort of monitors and looks at the performance and accredits a third of those organizations that provide CME on a national scope. So, major medical schools and publishers and medical societies etcetera. But, two thirds of the system is accredited through recognized state medical societies of which Washington State Medical Association is one. So, you have a leadership role there, but you also have a leadership role in some ACCME committees. So, tell us a little bit about, how are you involved with ACCME, as well on a national basis?
>>FREEMAN: Well, I’ve been fortunate, I enjoy participating in CME. I enjoy being part of the learning process and part of the accrediting process. I find it challenging; I find it exciting. I’m delighted with the many peers that I have met at through this system. I served in the past on the Accreditation Review Committee.
>>SINGER: So, that’s, that’s the body that you know we have surveyors that that collect information about what providers are doing in practice, that information comes to the ARC, the Accreditation Review Committee, and they are the body that helps to determine compliance and noncompliance findings that are recommended to the board. So that’s one. In addition to the ARC you were also on the committee for review and recognition and tell me a little bit about your role there.
>>FREEMAN: It was an exciting six years, it had a chance for me to work with the different accredited, the recognized states in their accreditation process reviewing their systems to be sure that they were in sync with the national system. It was a source of education, we have an annual meeting where we all come together and discuss issues and how we can go about solving them together, exchanging information, sharing concerns, sharing problems, reaching solutions.
>>SINGER: OK. So, the ARC is to the accreditation of CME providers sort of what the CRR is to the recognition of state accreditors. It’s a leadership body, it’s a committee, an ACCME committee in which you and other representatives of state accreditation systems help to look at the performance from an accreditation standpoint of the state system.
>>FREEMAN: And also, it serves as a source of education for our peers
>>FREEMAN: in the state system.
>>SINGER: OK. So, how did you, I mean now that we’ve talked about these several roles that you have and sort of you’re at the top of your game, you have all these different roles, tell us as a physician, as a CME professional, how did you come to this? How did it start?
>>FREEMAN: When I joined the Virginia Medical Mason Center in Seattle, they asked each of the new members to participate in one of the committees within the medical center and I was always interested in education so I joined the CME committee. And lo and behold, they suddenly needed a chairman and I became the chairman. And so, I needed to get educated and they sent me off to a national meeting of the Alliance. And that’s when I began my trek to becoming knowledgeable about education and CME and little by little I developed my skills, my learning because doctors are not born with CME education and medical schools don’t offer CME education so it’s important for the practice you’re in to recognize that this is a very valuable resource not only for your institution but for the medical community and so with that I began to progress. Now some people like to play golf and some people like to play tennis and others like to play checkers or chess, I like to be involved in CME. I find that exciting. I find it an opportunity to learn and I certainly enjoy my peers within the CME setting. And to me that’s my pleasure.
>>SINGER: Now, you were you involved with this teaching of students, of medical students, of residents in your experience?
>>FREEMAN: In my experience our institution has residents and medical students from the University of Washington. And so, as an ophthalmologist I enjoy teaching the medical students and the residents about the eye, it’s not addressed with great vigor in the medical schools. And so, it really is an opportunity and the eye is the window of the soul and so every physician, every health care provider really needs to, you have to understand the eye because it gives them a lot of information. And it gives them a lot of ability to help their patients.
>>SINGER: OK. So that’s I was looking for sort of, that’s also a connection to education in terms of your commitments and experience. What about, I know that you’re also a surveyor, so are you a surveyor both within the state system and also nationally for the ACCME?
>>FREEMAN: I am involved with both and I enjoy it.
>>SINGER: OK tell us about that experience.
>>FREEMAN: It gives me an opportunity to really get into the trenches and understand what the issues that my colleagues face, not all institutions are so supportive of their CME department. And so it gives me an opportunity with the surveys to understand the issues that are presented to the individual coordinators, to the individual committees within the hospitals. And so, with that information I can discuss at the state level our strategies for our annual meetings to help them recognize what problems they may face and how to develop strategies to overcome that. How to reach out to their C-Suites, to their peers, to develop strategies to overcome the problems so that they can have a very strong and viable CME committee and CME activities within their institutions.
>>SINGER: So it provides a very useful perspective for you.
>>FREEMAN: it gives a perspective
>>SINGER: informs all the other things that you do
>>FREEMAN: right. And it’s interesting to compare that many of the state accredited providers at the national have the similar strengths but also have some of the similar weaknesses and those are things we can address.
>>SINGER: So, let’s wrap up the interview by talking directly to physicians who are young in their practice, young in their career about how you would entice them to get involved in CME.
>>FREEMAN: CME is an important aspect of health care; it’s an important aspect in delivering quality health care to our patients. And so, I think, we as physicians, we as more senior physicians need to convey the importance of being involved in CME to our younger colleagues as they join our practices. We should express to them the importance of being involved in this process. It’s fun. It’s pleasant. You meet wonderful peers that are dedicated. As physicians we really need to educate our colleagues, to be responsible for our colleagues. And this is a great opportunity to do a service to medicine to our patients, but also to have a lot of fun and I’ve certainly enjoy my career in CME , I’ve met wonderful people. I’ve met good friends; I’m having a good time doing that and it’s a really nice thing to do and it’s important for our careers, for our patients and for the public.
>>SINGER: Thank you, Mel
>>FREEMAN: Thank you, Steve
This is a transcript of Leading CME as a Career Opportunity for Physicians
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