Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What is CME/CHE?

Someone sent me an email after looking at my website; she wanted to know what CME was and why it was important. That’s a good question.

CME, or continuing medical education is usually called CHE, continuing health education in Canada. This type of education helps healthcare professionals stay up-to-date with their practice. To be able to continue practicing, healthcare governing bodies dictate that you must have a certain amount of continuing education credits over a set period of time. This is to ensure that professionals learn about new techniques, discoveries, and generally what is going on in their specialty.

CME or CHE programs are supposed to be written in an unbiased, evidence-based fashion. They’re not advertising for a specific product. In Canada, this is strictly enforced by different organizations that oversee the whole process, ensuring that the material that ends up in front of the healthcare professionals is truly educational.

When someone is writing CME/CHE programs, they can be writing for print, video, audio, live presentations, lectures, or really just about any format that will transfer information from one person to another. The advantage to this is that the company that wants this program out can choose to do it in an educational form that’s best for their target audience. Or, they can choose to have the same program written in more than one form so that the audience can choose which learning type they would like to have.

The writer doesn’t have to be a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to write CME/CHE programs. However, the writer does have to understand how to present the material in such a way that the healthcare professional will understand. The best programs are written by people who understand how their target audience thinks and learns. If you can get into the mind of your learner, you have a much better chance of writing the information in such a way that it will be absorbed easily.

I’ve been asked how someone gets into CME/CHE writing. I just happened in to it and I think that is how a lot of CME/CHE writers get in to it. Unless you are somehow exposed to these programs, chances are you wouldn’t even know that they exist. So, if something like this interests you, my suggestion would be to ask around and see what companies do CME/CHE programs. See if you can get your foot in the door by doing other types of writing for them. Or, perhaps if you have editing experience, you could get into an agency or company that way.

You might want to look at local universities to see if there are courses offered in medical writing; this could expose you to other avenues that you may not have thought of.

Although I like CME/CHE work. My favourite work is patient education. I love writing patient education. I love the idea of helping people understand things, especially medical things because they can be so frightening. Once something is explained in clear and easy-to-understand, people seem to be so much more relaxed and receptive to what is going to happen next – even if they’re facing something serious. However, if patient education isn’t available, I do like the CME/CHE material. It’s teaching and I think, somewhere deep down, I’m a closet teacher. I studied adult education for a while, I also studied Teaching English as a Second Language, and I did teach it for a while. Oh, and I taught first aid too. So, it all seems to tie together, doesn’t it?

News for today:
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