Published 10/1/2009
Gerald R. Williams Jr, MD

Lowering the cost of CME course participation

The economic recession is affecting orthopaedic surgeons on many fronts. As a result, finding ways to reduce practice costs has become a key business strategy. At the same time, managing the commitment to lifelong learning remains critically important. When practice revenues drop, maximizing value becomes imperative—and that includes participation in continuing medical education (CME) courses.

The Academy’s CME Courses Committee is meeting the challenge by implementing several strategies designed to reduce the associated costs (both personal and financial) of attending CME courses while maintaining our primary goal of presenting unbiased, peer-reviewed, high-quality education designed to help you provide safe and effective patient care.

New options for skills courses
To harness the power of the Internet, the Academy will introduce an innovative combined Webinar/surgical skills course in February 2010, under the direction of Bruce E. Cohen, MD, and Brian C. Toolan, MD. “Forefoot and Midfoot Reconstruction: Getting Things Straight” starts with a Webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and concludes with an all-day skills session on Saturday, Feb. 12.

On Tuesday, you’ll be able to join the course faculty online from the comfort of your home or office for lectures, video demonstrations, and a Q&A session. The Webinar will also be available online for viewing throughout the following day. Then on Friday, Feb. 12, travel to the Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC) for evening case discussions, a Q&A session, and dinner. The all-day, “hands-on” skills session follows on Saturday. This combination course has a lower registration fee and requires just one night of travel compared to the typical two nights for a surgical skills course.

Later in 2010, the AAOS will introduce another new option for surgical skills courses. The 2-day “Arthroscopic Management of Rotator Cuff Disease and Instability” course (July 23–24), organized by Robert H. Bell, MD, and Patrick J. McMahon, MD, is structured so that you can opt to attend either one or both days. The same applies for the “AAOS/AAHKS Knee Arthroplasty: Uni, Total & Revision Insights, New Techniques” course (Oct. 8–9) organized by Peter F. Sharkey, MD, and Michael E. Berend, MD.

Webinars are becoming an increasingly popular learning option, and the AAOS has several planned for 2010. These 90 to 120 minute programs present highly focused content on just the type of challenges seen in a typical day of orthopaedic practice. If you have not participated in one, I urge you to check it out.

Lowering travel costs
The Academy’s staff is also working on strategies to reduce travel costs by negotiating reductions in previously contracted hotel room rates for upcoming courses and the lowest hotel room rates possible for future meetings. In some cases, previously contracted hotel rates have been lowered $50 to $100 per night. The goal is to keep your travel costs as low as possible.

Grant support from the orthopaedic industry also helps offset costs and is much appreciated. The committee’s policy is to use grant funds, whenever possible, to reduce course registration fees. Registration fees for the AAOS/OTA Orthopaedic Trauma Update, the AAOS/POSNA International Pediatric Orthopaedic Symposium, and others are lowered each year due to industry grants.

Adding value
The CME Courses Committee is also working to expand the value you gain from participating in an Academy surgical skills course. Next year, along with the course syllabus, each surgical skills course participant will receive a DVD of the faculty surgical video demonstrations presented during the course. The DVDs will be mailed to participants 2 to 3 weeks after the course.

We know quality programming, affordability, and expediency rank high among your CME course needs. Our new course strategies target these needs while raising the value you get from the Academy’s CME courses.

The next meeting of the CME Courses Committee will be Nov. 7, 2009. We’d like to hear your opinions and ideas; simply e-mail courses@aaos.org

Gerald R. Williams Jr., MD, is chair of the AAOS CME Courses Committee. He can be reached at courses@aaos.org