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Can a CME Case Conference Series Create a Community of Practice in a Group of Hospitalist Physicians?
Central Group on Educational Affairs Regional Spring Meeting (2017)
  • Lonika Sood, Aurora Health Care
  • Deborah Simpson, Aurora Health Care
 Objective/Purpose: To develop and describe a community of practice amongst a group of hospitalist physicians
through a longitudinal structured continuing medical education (CME) activity.
Need for Innovation: National studies which were confirmed by local survey, reveal that adult medicine hospitalists
have reported feelings of isolation, poor socialization with limited forums to collaborate and learn together as
colleagues (e.g., structured case discussions, morbidity and mortality conferences). They struggle with clinical and
teaching workloads and the stress of keeping up-to-date. CME has been the traditional mechanism to support
continuous learning, yet there is limited data regarding the impact of CME case conference on physicians’
socialization and isolation.
Instructional Methods/Materials Used: A CME approved case conference series for Internal Medicine hospitalists was
designed using Communities of Practice principles and Harden’s CRISIS criteria for effective CME (making
participation voluntary, choosing topics relevant to their role in the workplace, encouraging peer-to peer learning,
scheduling the program). The hospital leadership was approached for resources to support a CME endeavor, and they
provided administrative support for CME documentation, along with a meeting space and refreshments. The 1-hour
clinical conference series was scheduled every two months and selected clinical cases are presented by a hospitalist.
A case is selected on the basis of its rare presentation, complicated diagnosis or challenging management. The
presenter, through a powerpoint discussion, provides the group with the session’s educational objectives, followed by
the presentation of the patient, and poses clinical questions at strategic points. An open format for discussion allows
attendees to offer their opinions, ask questions and reflect on each others’ experiences.
Educational Outcomes: Attendees complete an end of session evaluation to gauge their reaction. In future events, we
will gather narratives from attendees with regards to their changes in behavior a few months following the session. We
have had five sessions since November 2015. Some examples of presented cases are management of atypical chest
pain and approach to severe hyponatremia. Narrative comments on a post conference anonymous survey indicated
participants valued ‘prompted audience participation’, ‘the discussion and debate to improve practice based on
evidence based guidelines’. Despite potential scheduling challenges, each session has had at least 8 participants
(75% of this hospitalist group).
Strengths/Areas for Improvement: Our CME series helps fill the void of professional isolation and provides a collegial
peer-to-peer learning opportunity that community hospitalists seem to value. Since it is situated in social learning and
communities of practice, the case conference accommodates practitioners of varying levels of experience in shared
learning from each another. Moreover, this program is not resource intensive. Since we have had 5 sessions in the
past year, we hope to expand our audience to hospitalists and specialists from other facilities in other health care
systems (which lack structured local CME activities).
Feasibility of Program Maintenance/Transferability: With leadership support, we propose that a program such as ours,
grounded in social learning theory, is reproducible in comparative settings. Although designed keeping the unique
characteristics of hospitalist physicians in mind, it can be replicated in other settings where physicians do not
necessarily meet each other on a regular professional basis such as primary care. In addition, physicians working in
shift-based specialties such as critical care and emergency medicine will likely find value in engaging in this form of
community of practice.
Publication Date
Winter March 30, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
Citation Information
Lonika Sood and Deborah Simpson. "Can a CME Case Conference Series Create a Community of Practice in a Group of Hospitalist Physicians?" Central Group on Educational Affairs Regional Spring Meeting (2017)
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