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CCMEP Spotlight

An Amazing Source of Energy ... Spotlight on Judy Ribble, PhD, CCMEP

Dave Clausen, CCMEP, and member of the NC-CME Marketing Committee, interviews prominent Certified CME Professionals about their career paths. This week's Spotlight shines on Judy Ribble, PhD, CCMEP, who is retiring as Executive Director Emerita of NC-CME on January 31, 2013.

Dave Clausen: Since 2006, you've helped organize, develop and lead a herculean effort to bring greater professional credibility and sense of community to the CME field. What are the biggest challenges ahead for the NC-CME?

Judy Ribble: There are a few that come to mind. The most significant next step for us is to increase the size of the platform for the CCMEP program, to progress from a "nice-to-have" to a "must-have" credential for CME professionals. Keeping in mind that the inspiration for the credential originated with a passing truck for a chimney sweep service, which advertised "Make Sure Your Chimney Sweep Is Certified" ... the underlying challenge is to get people to be more invested in their careers, to view CME as a career and not just a job. While there is distinct value to a company that employs CCMEPs, it's ultimately about the impact on the individual.

At the same time, we have to cultivate our existing CCMEPs, and kick off the re-certification program with a lot of energy and enthusiasm so that the early adopters of 2008 and 2009 continue their support.

Tied in with all of this is the challenge of updating the revenue model for the organization. This is in need of re-examination right now, to consider other sources of funding aside from registration fees which, in a continuing tight labor market, cannot fully support the organization and its mission long-term.

Dave Clausen: Having advocated for the CCMEP since pre-Recession days, what are the most notable advantages to earning the credential in today's environment?

Judy Ribble: The CCMEP has always been a way to get a leg up in the CME community, to objectively demonstrate that you know what you're talking about, so that hasn't necessarily changed. With today's tighter job market, the credential can bring more value to someone who wants to stand out from the crowd. Another benefit of pursuing the credential in 2013 versus 2008 is that employers are now including employee exam fees in their internal budgets, so an important hurdle is being lowered for many.

Finally, as of 2010, the practice exam is available to interested professionals for a fraction of the cost of the exam itself. What's exciting about this is that our data show that 91 percent of people who took the practice exam (regardless of their score) went on to pass the actual exam. That alleviates a lot of anxiety for most people who want to pursue the credential.

Dave Clausen: Looking five years into the future, how do you think the work of CME professionals will have changed?

Judy Ribble: With the expansion of our focus into education for health care professionals (HCPs), instead of just CME for physicians and physician assistants, the horizon for growth is unlimited. Interdisciplinary learning has a long way to go, and I'm looking forward to seeing new research on how different HCPs learn best. I would love to see CCMEP become a requirement for ACCME surveyors and for the Alliance fellowship program as well. I think the latter is more feasible now that the two organizations have begun to realize how much their missions intersect.

That said, I've come through the ranks in CME since the 80s when we entered our data on punch cards to the digital technology advances we're experiencing now. Having been involved with Lifetime Medical Television back in the early 90s, I see television as a modality that is underutilized by CEHP providers at present. There are many rural physicians out there who would be more likely to watch TV than online videos, and when you consider the interactive modalities that exist today where television viewers can input data on their experiences, you have some exciting possibilities for CME.

Dave Clausen: What traits have you found are most common across those individuals who've earned the CCMEP?

Judy Ribble: CCMEPs are people who consider themselves to be in a career, not just a job, and they tend to be more engaged with the people around them, their colleagues and collaborators. To that point, the NC-CME Board is working toward creating a long-range trajectory, in part to encourage people who want to pursue the credential but are not ready to take the exam. This might look like a stratified credentialing program that will reward people who are in the early stages of their career as well as those who've progressed to more advanced stages and want more of a challenge.

Dave Clausen: When you consider the original vision for the NC-CME, and its path of development since, has it more or less stayed the course? Were there surprise forks in the road?

Judy Ribble: Other than the economic downturn, the biggest surprise to me has been that the people in government, the Senate Finance Committee, the ACCME, have not been more supportive of our efforts. However, I can see more support coming from these groups down the road. Another surprise is the amount of test anxiety I see, among people that I think should have nothing to fear. The CCMEP exam is after all a test of minimum competency.

Dave Clausen: Which CME professional (living or dead) do you most admire for their contributions to the field?

Judy Ribble: The person who comes to mind is very clear: Holly Atkinson. She's a physician, a fellow of the American College of Physicians (where I was working when I first met her), and my boss during my time at Lifetime Medical Television. Roger Bone was a Rheumatologist on the ACP Board of Regents, who told me about his involvement with this new venture with the Lifetime cable channel and suggested that the ACP get involved. After getting approval from the ACP leadership, I moved it forward and started working with Holly who was Vice President of Programming at Lifetime. When the time came for ACP to transition a new person into my role, I asked Holly if she wanted to pursue accreditation and start a CME group for Lifetime and she went for it. It was the best job I ever had. Holly showed me a different side of the CME world, it was so exciting and rich and full of opportunity. We did some great work in those four or so years before Lifetime decided that they wanted to change their format.

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