Francis Maitland and the Value of a CME Mentor

By Melvin Freeman, MD, FACS, FACEhp

Editor’s Note: The following has been transcribed from Melvin Freeman’s 2017 Francis M. Maitland Memorial address at the Alliance Annual Conference.

It was January 1986, and I was a young physician and a member of our hospital’s CME committee. What did I know about CME or professional development? I came from the school of “see one, do one, teach one.”

Unexpectedly, our CME Committee chair was appointed to the Clinic’s Executive Committee, and I was told that I’m the chair of the CME Committee and I better go to the Alliance for CME’s meeting in San Francisco, learn what CME is all about, and how to educate my peers. I’m an ophthalmologist; what do I know or even remember about education or medicine or even surgery? I specialized in two small but important areas of the body: the two eyes, and the eyes alone.

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Suddenly, I was at the Mark Hopkins Hotel atop Nob Hill. All alone, yet surrounded by educators, medical school associate deans and physicians from major teaching hospitals, specialty societies and those frightening and demanding members of the ACCME. I’m lost … I’m overwhelmed … I’m inadequate. I’m confused, and I know nothing!

And then an angel appeared.

Francis Maitland saw how overwhelmed and confused I was. She said to me, “Let’s sit down and talk.” And we sat. We sat and talked for an hour in the reception area of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. She asked me about my training, my new responsibilities as CME chair, my plans and how I wanted to proceed in my new endeavor.

As we talked, I began to feel better about my new undertaking. She gave me ideas and suggestions on how I should proceed in learning my new responsibilities. We spoke on how I could use my previous training, and how I could acquire new knowledge and competence through the Alliance, my peers at the meeting and when I returned home.

After talking to Francis, I knew I had a friend, a colleague and a mentor.

And so I became involved in the Alliance. I attended the annual meetings and learned from the sessions, and I practiced what I learned in my CME program. I always spoke with Francis when I had concerns, or needed an idea or advice. She always replied to me with patience and understanding. She was truly a great mentor.

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I participated in Alliance committee work and, as Francis was a mentor to me, I volunteered to be a mentor to other newbies at the annual Alliance meetings and in my community. I grew in CME, and I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Alliance in 1992, the Executive Committee in 1996 and became Alliance president in 1999.

All of this occurred because a mentor sat with me in a hotel lobby 30 years ago.

Thank you Francis Maitland, my mentor.

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