Stanford research center could elevate CME

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It probably won't have the same ability to tap industry for support, but a new med-ed center at Stanford has some other interesting parallels with the school's CME program.

 

“For the most part, the highest bar for CME has been, ‘Can people answer questions on a multiple choice test?'” says Dr. Clarence Braddock III, professor of medicine and director of Stanford's new Center for Medical Education Research and Innovation. “That's necessary but not sufficient to have an impact on practice.”

Braddock said the center aims ultimately to raise that bar. Initially tasked with exploring different ways of delivering undergraduate and graduate medical education, it could also help Stanford's CME program, which received a $3-million, three-year grant from Pfizer in 2009, to realize one of its research goals.

 

Dr. Robert Jackler, who heads up the CME program, has been working with the quality department at Stanford Hospital to see if newer teaching interventions have an impact on clinical performance.

 

“One thing the CME effort has not been able to achieve to date is put together a very rigorous research infrastructure to answer that question,” Braddock said. There is “a modest evaluation group in the CME center, and we've had discussions on how our research infrastructure will help them look at the impact of these newer approaches in CME.”

 

To do that, he's looking to recruit several doctoral-level research scientists, especially from fields other than medical education like the social and behavioral sciences (for instance, anthropologists, to elucidate the cultural forces that can reinforce or undermine an educational message). The broader goal is to fuel innovation, “not just in specific ways of teaching x, y and z, but in the mindset of medical education,” Braddock said.

 

The center, to be fully staffed by fall 2012, has already launched a one-year med-ed fellowship and has three fellows enrolled, as well as an ongoing seminar series.

 

“I think that Dr. Jackler and his colleagues in the CME world recognize that traditional CME—sort of the ‘go to a class, sit there for a few hours, get your CME hours and move on'—is less effective than we would like to see,” Braddock said. “The ability to step away from that and have a large unrestricted investment and a completely different way of doing CME is philosophically aligned with what we are interested in doing in undergraduate and graduate medical education.”

 

Those parallels are not likely to extend to sources of funding, though. Braddock said he's exploring organizations and foundations that may be interested in fostering a unique approach to physician training, as well as enhancing professionalism, interpersonal communication and humanism in budding clinicians. “I don't know that industry is going to be as interested.”

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