Sandie M. Coleman, MAEd, Associate Director of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Pharmacy at Wake AHEC, was invited to present at the national Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) Accreditation Workshop: Virtual Edition in August 2020.

The ACCME Accreditation Workshop was designed to assist CME professionals of all skill levels to plan and deliver education that matters to patient care. Over the two-day conference, Sandie served as a facilitator for the Hospital and Health Systems beginner group of CME providers. Her responsibilities included serving as a leader in group discussions across four 90-minute sessions on Accreditation Criteria and fostering a network of support among her cohort.

Sandie took some time to elaborate on her role at the national conference and what her participation meant for Wake AHEC and the NC AHEC Program. This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

How did you learn about the ACCME workshop and the invitation extended to you to present?

I have attended the conference before in the past, and it has been in Chicago every year. Of course, last year it was virtual. I received an email directly from the ACCME asking me if I would be interested in serving as faculty. It was very exciting for me to be recognized at the national level. As leader for the CME team at Wake AHEC, it reaffirmed that we are doing things right, and that our processes are in line with ACCME Accreditation Criteria.

The workshop was organized into three categories of CME providers—beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I was faculty member for participants the beginner category with zero to five years of experience working in CME.

Speaking of criteria—the core topics of the sessions you led included Accreditation Criteria and Standards of Commercial Support. Could you discuss how those are significant to CME providers?

There are actually 38 different criteria providing a framework for all CME providers when setting up programs to be accredited providers. The ACCME had the workshop broken up into three distinct virtual classrooms for the participant groups based on these criteria.

Facilitating these workshops was a little different than anything I had participated in before, because the ACCME provided us with specific training before the conference. They wanted to do make sure providers understood the premise of ACCME processes and criteria, and then pivot back to the group so participants could share what they’re doing and learn from others, which makes perfect sense. I was there to guide the discussion and to facilitate the development of a network among the group itself.

Going into these sessions, what was your hope for their outcome?

I think the hope for these beginner professionals who are new to CME was for them to return to their programming activities and realize they don’t have to do it solo. If they’re on their own and feeling overwhelmed by how to execute all of these criteria, my intent was that they left the workshop realizing there are more people within their facility to lean on. It really was our role as facilitators to make sure that these CME providers recognize they are extending their department to include others within their organizations to assist them. For instance, make sure you are integrating CME throughout your hospital or clinic’s culture. You are in your facility to help others understand that CME isn’t just to create more paperwork—it’s to integrate education into your practice. As a facilitator, I wanted to give these professionals a toolkit and help them feel like they could reach out. It wasn’t just educating folks about the CME process, but about how it works to ultimately create better patient outcomes.

What are some of your primary takeaways, observations, and successes?

To start, it was great for me because it was a refresher of all of the criteria that I adhere to every day. It was an opportunity for me to really brush up on my skills. But it was also an opportunity for me to learn from others who are new in the field. Sometimes, as a more seasoned professional, you can get stuck in your way of doing something. This experience gave me fresh ideas to take back to my team, so I thought that was a win-win.

I also think that this represented the work of Wake AHEC on a national level. We have received commendation from the ACCME twice. This wasn’t just a recognition that spoke to my work as an individual, but to the reputation of Wake AHEC more broadly. This confirmed that we are doing things right. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO SUSAN MONTAGUE FOR HER CONTRIBUTIONS