Guest Editorial

Family Physicians Play Key Role in Planning Assembly CME

September 05, 2012 04:45 pm Russell Breish, M.D.

You probably know that every year the Academy offers hundreds of CME sessions in one place during the AAFP Scientific Assembly. What you might not know is that a group of family physician volunteers makes sure those CME offerings are evidence-based, free from commercial bias and relevant to our specialty.

[Russell Breish, M.D.]

Russell Breish, M.D.

By the time the 2011 Scientific Assembly ended last September in Orlando, Fla., the AAFP's Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) already had identified the topics most appropriate for this year's event, which is scheduled for Oct. 16-20 in Philadelphia.

The commission's Subcommittee on Assembly Scientific Program (SASP) maintains a list of topics and prioritizes that list each year. Some topics, like hypertension, are included annually. Others that should be covered at some point but are less vital, such as lead poisoning, rotate.

After topics are agreed upon, the AAFP posts the topics and requests that interested faculty members submit their proposals online. AAFP staff members consolidate the applications and share them with the SASP. Then using a formalized scoring process, the SASP selects the actual faculty via a conference call.

How do we know if faculty members do a good job? For one thing, you tell us. Commission members review learner evaluation forms, and we also attend a number of the sessions ourselves and grade the speakers. That information is taken into consideration for planning the next Assembly. About 30 percent of our faculty were new to the event last year.

Attending the sessions ourselves gives us another chance (in addition to reviewing the speakers' proposals and conflict-of-interest statements) to ensure there is no commercial bias. If we hear something that is questionable, we are able to touch base with the speaker and make suggestions before the session is repeated.

This year's Assembly is starting a day earlier than in the past, which means you can earn even more CME -- up to 41 AAFP Prescribed credits. There are nearly 350 sessions scheduled, including 39 hands-on clinical procedures workshops. You also can earn CME by attending the plenary sessions, visiting the poster sessions or attending one of a dozen satellite events.

New at this year's Scientific Assembly is a self-paced Learning Center that will help attendees better recognize and manage chronic pain. The one-hour CME activity provides a hands-on interactive patient care experience. Learners will complete three steps in the center: self-assessment, education gallery tour and live teaching rounds exam room. The three steps can be completed during a one-hour session, or learners can complete one at a time and come back at their convenience to complete the others.

Our commission, along with Academy staff, has worked hard to put together a CME event where you can learn from family physicians and with family physicians. Now it's up to you to make the most of it. I hope to see you in Philadelphia.

Russell Breish, M.D., of Fort Washington, Pa., is chair of the Commission on Continuing Professional Development and associate director of the Family Medicine Residency at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia.