10 Signs That You Might Work In CME

Confessions of a Medical Educator

If you know what ACCME, ACEHP, CCMEP, PhRMA, OIG, AMA CEJA, FACEHP, SACME, PARS, NCCME, PICME, POC CME, MOC, MOL, IACE, GAME, PPSA, and CMS stand for…you might work in CME.

If you know the occupations of the spouses for everyone on your planning committee…you might work in CME.

If you ask for a $150,000 grant and get a reply email from the grantor saying they are pleased to inform you that your grant request has been approved for $2500…you might work in CME.

If the most common feedback you get on your program evaluations is “The room was too cold” or “The iceberg lettuce was wilted”…you might work in CME.

If you know the difference between “accredited” and “certified”…you might work in CME.

If you understand how to define and measure “competence”…you might work in CME.

If you have nightmare visions of plates of fettuccine alfredo with lemon-pepper chicken…you might work…

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Painting #2


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Embracing the Phil Connors in Me

My car was shaking and clunking so much on my drive home that I was genuinely afraid that it was about to break into a million pieces at any moment. I called from the road to see if I could get it looked at tonight, but they said it wouldn’t be looked at until tomorrow morning. Either way, I had no way of figuring out how I would get home if I dropped it off for service. I finally decided I would drop it off tonight and just walk the last 1-1.5 miles home.

News flash Waukesha dwellers: If you ever decide to walk on Main St between Manhattan Dr and 164, THERE IS NO SIDEWALK!! Normally, this would be no problem. However, with 50 degree weather and 10 ft of snow melting, it took me two steps to realize that the hard-looking ground had turned to 3-4″-deep mud that reached just below my ankles. I thought I would be clever and walk on the hardened snow. That was going well until I hit a soft spot and my foot fell 12″ into freezing cold dirty water. At that point, I decided to take my chances with the cars on the road that has no shoulder… something I probably should have done from the start, I realize.

Needless to say, as all of this was happening, I could not help but feel amused and wildly entertained. I laughed at the squishiness of my right shoe all covered in mud and ice water. I felt a bit like Phil Connors, waiting for my Ned Ryerson to come out from nowhere, laughing. I clung onto light posts and street signs whenever possible, wishing I could harness strength to just swing from one to the next without touching the ground. There were moments I found myself with a huge smile on my face and a giggle escaping my lips. Then I would think about what the people in the cars were seeing – this woman in business clothes, mud up to her ankles, laughing like she was in good company, when really she was walking on the side of a street by herself – and I would laugh harder.

I’m home now with time to think about how I’m going to get back to my car and how I am going to get to and from work tomorrow. I know I’ll figure something out, but for now, I think a glass of wine is in order — seems customary after a mud bath.

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There is a woman I got to know while working in my former career who is one of the strongest, most inspiring women I have ever known. I have never met a woman as gracious, loving and caring as her.

Her name is Ellen and she is in her mid 80s now. When she was on the Board of Directors, I had the opportunity to see her monthly. Beyond that, she would regularly help out with office tasks and special projects between meetings, allowing me the opportunity to get to know her on a special level. When a holiday would come around, no matter if it were small or large, she would bring a rose to the office as a gift to me in celebration and share God’s blessings. The thoughtfulness of Ellen was beyond what I have ever experienced in my life.

Eventually, she stepped down from the board and I didn’t get to see her as often. Soon after that, her energy declined and she didn’t participate in activities in the office anymore. Though I didn’t get to see her as often, she still never failed to send a card every holiday, no matter small or large, including a $5 bill with the direction to buy myself a rose with it. Some I would use to go buy a rose, but others I would save so that I could donate them back to the organization in honor of her; she has always been a woman who deserves to be honored.

In 2012, Ellen moved to be closer to her eldest daughter after spending over 60 years in Oconomowoc, a city she loved and held dear to her heart with memories of the life with and without her late husband, the love of her life. Right before she left, her extremely talented, musical children flew in from masterful institutes throughout the country to perform in a “farewell” benefit concert at the area arts center, a place that she dedicated her volunteerism to in order to see it become a reality. I still remember that concert to this day. I remember how there were more people in that room to celebrate Ellen than there were to attend any of the concerts my organization had ever held in that hall.

Ellen left and less than a year later, so did I. I still received periodic messages from her while I remained at the organization, but those communications trickled out after I left. Many months went by without hearing from her, but my thoughts often drifted to hopes and wishes for her.

Today, after a fulfilling, meaningful day at work and at mass, I returned home to find a piece of mail from Ellen waiting for me. My heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t help but drop everything else I was holding so I could focus my efforts at delicately opening her letter. She wrote a letter and inserted it into her senior living community’s newsletter, where she starred the sections she was mentioned in; what joy it brought me to see a picture of her smiling with fellow “class of ’12” friends. She was happy and that made me happy.

Her message talked of transitions for both her and for me as we embarked on new journeys in our lives. She spoke of cancer research and prayer for those suffering; things we had never discussed previously, but given my new career path, she uncovered a side I had never seen of her before. It was yet another sign of how intelligent and amazing she is.

The fact of the matter is that her message brought tears to my eyes. I am beyond honored to receive her love and thought after all this time. Yes, I sent a Christmas card with a short message, but it was minimal compared to the communications we had in the past.

Ellen was always a rock to me and a connection to the spiritual side of me that had for so long been kept dormant. I can’t help but connect the fact that today, Ash Wednesday, the first Ash Wednesday I have attended mass in many years, was also the day that Ellen’s message reached me. I can’t help but feel that God intended these two moments to come together.

I can only hope that everyone has the opportunity to meet someone like Ellen in their lives; to meet someone who inspires you, strengthens you, challenges you, and enriches your life. God bless.

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Happy Birthday, Fran!

My dear Fran turned 100 today. Well, 100k, that is. She has always been a thoughtful companion – even now, on her day, she waited until we were at a stop sign to turn to six digits, knowing I was waiting with my camera in hand to capture the moment. She’s always looking out for my safety like that.

As I celebrate with her today, I realize the challenges we will face ahead. I can only hope she doesn’t suddenly phase into a midlife crisis. We’ve got a lot of road ahead of us and she has parts yet that many cars would kill for. Yet every auto mechanic will now lie to her and tell her she’s old or needs surgery. They will tell her she isn’t good enough and just can’t possibly compare to the newer models. It’s a cruel world out there and she will have to stay strong. Now it’s my turn to be there for her, to squash these insecurities before they even have a chance to settle in. We’re in this together, Franny.

Looking forward to taking your 200k picture someday… somewhere safe, I’m sure. Image

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The Wonder Years

For the record: I am proud to be a suburban girl.

I remember watching The Wonder Years as a kid with the rest of my family, but, given my young age, I never really appreciated it to the extent it should be appreciated. Going back to watch it now on Netflix, I fall instantly in love with its music, its story and its innocent, charming humor.

It also makes me realize that they really don’t make TV show pilots like they used to. I can only hope for the triumphant return of real, valuable television. I have provided the narration that follows the kiss of Winnie and Kevin by the tree at the end of the pilot… just one example of how powerful the messaging was for The Wonder Years.

It was the first kiss for both of us. We never really talked about it afterward.
But I think about the events of that day again and again.
And somehow I know that Winnie does too,
whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs or the mindlessness of the TV generation.

Because we know that inside each one of those identical boxes,
with its Dodge parked out front and its white bread on the table and its TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk,
there were people with stories,
there were families bound together in the pain and the struggle of love.

There where moments that made us cry with laughter, and there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.


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Painting #1

Started 2/1/14 and completed 2/9/14


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Dear Winter


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Letting Go: Embracing Oneself

Having a relationship come to an end is never easy, no matter how far in advance you may see the end coming. It doesn’t matter how it ends, whether peaceful or after a battle, something deep within still makes you feel off-balance. Removing the “heartache of a love lost” from the picture, the reality is you just lost a good friend. Sure, you may be able to build a friendship back up after some time, but suddenly it sets in that your day-to-day confidant, the first person typically on your mind when it isn’t occupied elsewhere, has become the last person you can go to. This is the hardest part: making the adjustment at the drop of a hat without any time to wean yourself off of the familiar.

Thankfully, when your ship gets tossed, there are others who step up and want to help you set sail again. They are great support systems that keep you busy enough to minimize those pesky, irrational (and unfortunately, inevitable) post-break-up thoughts. However, the most important part of adjusting is going back to the basic, fundamental focus of tackling the things that make you happy while letting the rest fall into place. It’s extremely important to take the time to look back, reflect, take notes, and move on. The moving on can be difficult, but achievable in the long run, if one commits to focusing on core happiness.

I am thankful for the people I have in my life, the strength I have in my own beliefs, and the clarity I have on achieving my goal to appreciate, love and respect the life I have been blessed with. I’m looking forward to all the rewards and  challenges that 2014 has yet to share with me.

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Of Collaborations Loved and Lost

Confessions of a Medical Educator

I thought we had something special,

You and I.

I thought we had a connection.
We communicated by email.
We talked on the phone.
We arranged to meet in person,
We clicked.
It worked.

I thought we would do great things together,

You and I.

I thought you were the one.
You said, “Follow up.”
You said, “Get back to me next week.”
You were excited to work together.
So I did.
I emailed.

No response.

“That’s OK,” I thought to myself.
I was sure you were busy.
I’ll just wait a-while longer,
I told my laptop.
And I did.
I waited.
Another week.

No response.

“Hey,” I emailed to you,
“My email’s been on the fritz.
Wanted to make sure
you got my note.
Let me know,
if you did.

No response.

Did I do something wrong?
I wondered,
Did I misspeak?
What wrong have I done…

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