Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), recently published an article in Academic Medicine, “The Leadership Case for Investing in Continuing Professional Development.”
In his article, Dr. McMahon calls upon healthcare leaders to recognize and appreciate the power and capacity of accredited CME to address many of the challenges in the healthcare environment, from clinician well-being to national imperatives for better health, better care, and lower costs. McMahon also offers principles and action steps for aligning leadership and educational strategy, while urging institutional leaders to embrace the continuing professional development of their human capital as an organizational responsibility and opportunity.
McMahon opines that CME is “an underused and low cost solution that can improve clinical performance, nurture effective collaborative teams, create meaning at work, and reduce burnout.” He believes that to optimize CME benefits, clinical leaders need to think of CME as a way to help drive change and achieve institutional goals, in concert with quality improvement efforts, patient safety, and other systems changes.
McMahon notes, “The perception of CME as only lectures in dark rooms or grand rounds with dwindling numbers of participants listening passively to an expert is increasingly anachronistic. Equally outdated is the view that CME is about rubber-stamping applications for credit. The end point of CME is not the credit that’s attained for licensing, certification, or credentials; rather, it is learning.”
A CME program that is properly utilized – with a multi-professional scope and educational expertise – can contribute to initiatives that focus on clinical and nonclinical areas alike. Some such initiatives can include quality and safety, professionalism, team communication, and process improvements. By supporting the achievement of quality and safety goals and engaging in public health priorities, CME programs can help organizations reach various strategic goals and demonstrate leadership.
He further argued that to “reap the greatest return on your institution’s investment in education, you will need to build a collaborative learning culture. We acculturate clinicians to be decisive and confident, but patient safety is compromised when confidence is not matched by ability. Promoting self-awareness as part of your institution’s culture is key to improving patient care and safety because it allows clinicians to stop if they are unsure, seek advice from a colleague or access resources, and ensure they are making the right decision at the right time.”
Additionally, “[b]reaking down silos among professions and throughout the medical education continuum, including the involvement of undergraduate and graduate medical education leadership, improves efficiency and the allocation of resources across an institution’s educational programs. An integrated learning environment that enables health care professionals, residents, and students to share conferencing space, learning management systems, and other resources will help drive team development.”
In conclusion, Dr. McMahon notes, “Healthcare leaders who recognize the strategic value of education can expect a meaningful return on their investment – not only in terms of the quality and safety of their clinicians’ work but also in the spirit and cohesiveness of the clinicians who work at the institution.”