February 2001 Bulletin

AAOS may adjust CME to meet time, cost factors

The Council on Education and the Educational Programming Committee are focusing energies on adjusting the Academy’s CME program to the needs of members who find discretionary time is a scarce commodity and expenses must be carefully monitored.

The Academy is still the preferred source of CME and skills courses for most fellows, however, AAOS marketing research has found that in the last two years 44 percent of members surveyed had attended fewer CME courses and 40.8 percent, fewer skills courses.

The reasons: 54 percent said they cutback on CME courses because the costs (travel, fees and lost income) were too high and they could not take time away from their practice. Forty-nine percent attended fewer skills courses because of the same cost factors and 46 percent because of the time factor.

William W. Tipton Jr., MD, AAOS executive vice president, says the concern about costs is related more to the fact that members who have seen a decline in reimbursements are sensitized to all expenditures.

He acknowledges that the decline in attendance is a matter of high concern for an organization with a primary mission in education. The AAOS marketing department has conducted more than 20 focus group sessions and 10 large-scale quantitative surveys to explore the reasons for the decline and help the Council on Education to formulate solutions.

This may translate into a new focus for the comprehensive courses toward advanced courses, a shift to more content on new techniques and new technology, shorter courses and different course locations.

Robert Bucholz, MD, chairman of the educational programming committee, said courses will be more interactive, and there will be multiday courses that include a one-day course focused on a specific subject for members who can only stay for one day. Dr. Bucholz also sees more cosponsored courses with orthopaedic societies such as the America Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society and others. "It’s a way to pool resources," he explained.

The Academy has one online CME course on its home page and expects to have as many as 10 next year for members who want to study and earn CME credit from home or office.

Other factors impacting CME attendance include the fact that AMA CME category 1 credit is universally available, says Dr. Bucholz, MD. There may be a generational problem, too. Dr. Bucholz says younger orthopaedic surgeons may not demonstrate the same commitment to general orthopaedic education as previous generations. Also, some courses have subjects of very limited interest, such as osteoporosis, and some course locations are not attractive to members.

In reviewing these factors, the committee concluded that orthopaedic surgeons in general practice won’t go to a course that focuses on an area of orthopaedics which doesn’t provide patient services. Common procedures make up a significant amount of orthopaedic practice and the need for ongoing education in these areas is very limited.

AAOS market research found that members believe the Academy should offer advanced courses (65 percent); focus narrowly on specific topics (60 percent); include cutting-edge procedures (55 percent); cosponsor with specialty societies (55 percent); and offer 50 percent new material in courses that frequently repeat (65 percent). Sixty percent say they would more likely attend courses that are within driving distance instead of across the country.


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