By Cynthia K. Bartunek and Mary Jo Kerns, MD (pictured left to right)
Give the people what they want. Or, rather, give the dermatologists what they want — and need. At the Ohio Dermatological Association (ODA), we found that making a few key improvements to our annual meeting program was not only fairly easy to implement, but more importantly, a huge asset to our members and meeting attendees.
For years, the ODA annual meeting consisted largely of 30–60-minute lecture-style presentations. As MOC requirements came into play, we didn’t know much about it, so we dove in and learned as much as we could to help our members start meeting the requirements. We worked closely with the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) to get a three-year approval for both general and surgical dermatology self-assessment modules. These particular modules were chosen because we had members who were willing to write test questions for the topics, which are then subject to rigorous review by the ABD.
Besides general and surgical dermatology, organizations may also choose to write questions for pediatric dermatology, medical dermatology, basic sciences, or submit their own subspecialty- or disease-specific options for approval.
How it all works
We found that it works best to recruit two physicians for each module, so that each person is responsible for writing about 15 questions. We have extra questions in reserve in case the ABD had issues with any of them; that way we could easily swap the question for another that had already been approved. While writing a question may seem simple enough, there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to. Visit the ABD website for further guidance on how to write test questions.
The addition of the MOC modules to our annual meeting program has been an important step in expanding the ODA’s CME offerings. The two MOC self-assessment modules, valued at 2.0 CME credits, consist of 25 questions each, including photographs. One credit hour is dedicated to each area of focus.
The modules are administered using an audience response system where attendees select an answer from five possibilities. They enter a response on a keypad, and the system displays how many attendees have chosen each answer. The correct answer is then shown with an explanation given by the moderator as to why the answer is appropriate and the others not. Attendees have the opportunity to see how their answers compare to others in the session without having answers tracked back to them so that the focus is on learning, not singling out mistakes. After the session is complete, printed materials with the questions and answers are available to the attendees as a reference. Certificates of participation are also distributed to each attendee.
Our best advice is to start early and be prepared to work closely with the ABD. The MOC self-assessment application, guidelines, and standards can be accessed on the ABD website. We start collecting test questions from the teams of writers about five months in advance of the meeting so that there is plenty of time to review questions, submit them to the ABD, and make changes or swap questions.
Our MOC modules have been so well received that it’s become the Friday afternoon kick off session at the ODA annual meeting. And as many of you who plan weekend meetings know, it can be hard to get people to show up before Saturday! But with careful session planning, we bring attendees in on Friday with the MOC self-assessment, and save coding, one of the other well-attended sessions, for Sunday.
Now that we’ve seen how receptive attendees are to the new offerings, we hope to continue expanding our MOC offerings. In the future, we’d like to consider adding other self-assessment focus areas, like pediatric dermatology and dermatopathology, as this would add interest to our meeting, bringing in different physicians with unique specialties.
Cynthia K. Bartunek is the executive director of the Ohio Dermatological Association. Dr. Kerns, past president of the ODA and member of the program planning committee, is a dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Columbus, Ohio.