By Erin Schwarz
Having attended the Alliance Annual Conference nearly every year since 1998, the reasons I attend have evolved as my career has developed.
1. Professional Entrance
When I started my career in CME, I dove into compliance, educational planning and activity evaluation with no formal training. The first project in my first job out of college was an ACCME reaccreditation for a specialty society. It was very reassuring to attend the Alliance Annual Conference that first year and attend sessions that were geared to my level, with helpful teachers and attendees. With the information gained from this conference and some additional research, I was able to guide our program through reaccreditation successfully.
2. Professional Loneliness
At times, being a CME professional can be very lonely. Working for a specialty society for the first 10 years of my career, I was the only staff member handling CME-related issues. When the Standards for Commercial Support rolled out, I was all alone in my organization to figure out how to implement changes to meet the new expectations. The comradery and best-practice sharing at the Alliance Annual Conference helped me figure out what might work for our society, and made me feel less alone in the process.
3. Professional Stretch Assignment
I had attended the Alliance Annual Conference for about 7 years when I realized that I had learned a lot of good information and had some experiences that I could share. The two leaders from the Specialty Society Section asked if I would be willing to co-lead the section and, so, taking a deep breath, I said yes. This was the first time I had assumed a leadership role in any national organization, and it was so rewarding. First, through our shared experiences of creating the education for the section, I got to know several leaders in the field and made a number of friends. Second, I learned so much more about the subjects that we were discussing because I had been part of the planning process.
4. Professional Re-Entry
After I had my daughter, I took a few years off from work. When I began to help my old specialty society out as a consultant, I immediately signed up for the Alliance Annual Conference so I could bring my knowledge up to date, learn about the new trends and reconnect with colleagues. This was exactly the springboard I needed to get back into my career and continue to hone my professional competencies.
5. Personal Friends and Satisfaction
Now, I still attend the Alliance Annual Conference for all of the above reasons as well as the friends I have made along the way. I find intellectual stimulation, especially in the keynotes, and I am challenged to be a better teacher when I have a session accepted. Sharing time together with colleagues helps me remember why this profession matters, and that brings me tremendous professional and personal satisfaction.
I hope to see you at the Alliance 2020 Annual Conference in San Francisco this January!