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CCMEP Spotlight: The ACC Academic Affairs Team

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 the American College of Cardiology and the Academic Affairs group within the Lifelong Learning division: Ellen L. Cohen, Cert.Ed., Dip.Ed., CCMEP; Melissa Ketchum, CCMEP; Maria Ortiz, CCMEP and Melissa Valentine.

 

Dave Clausen: You’re part of a much larger organization within the ACC, called the Lifelong Learning Division, which includes five other groups including Academic Affairs.  Looking at your group, what are the key qualities that define the ideal team member?

ACC Team: We think of key qualities in terms of a commitment to excellence in the delivery of education, flexibility and professionalism in dealing with challenges, having confidence in your own skills and abilities that allow you the flexibility to deal with a fluid environment and, finally, ongoing commitment to professional development.

In terms of “professional development”, both Melissa Ketchum and Maria are on the MSS section Education Work Group that develops the member section meetings at the Alliance and other meetings throughout the year.  Ellen is on the marketing committee for the NC-CME, where she established the NC-CME LinkedIn group.  On top of that, everyone works to involve themselves in development of relevant Alliance presentations on an annual basis. 

Maria Ortiz: When I started with ACC almost 5 years ago, there wasn’t a mention of CCMEP at that time.  As I started to develop within the organization, the CCMEP came along and it didn’t really hit me at the time, although my manager then did ask me if I was going to pursue it. It wasn’t given priority however, until the restructuring of our group.  When Ellen was interviewing to join the team as Director, she emphasized the value of the credential.  And while it is clearly valuable to managers, it’s even more so for those doing day-to-day operations.  It’s a perceived value; more than a tangible value, since it changes the way people see you…as more of an expert, because you’ve passed this exam.

 

DC: What’s your role on the team now and does it differ from what you were doing prior to the structural reorganization?  What’s been the most exciting development in that transformation for you?

Ellen Cohen:  I’m fairly new at ACCF as the Director of Accreditation, although in previous positions I wore every CME hat that was possible for me to wear, and where this job is different is my focus on ensuring that accreditation status stays at an exemplary level, which requires ongoing coordination with the other teams in the Lifelong Learning division.  We work with almost every other division within ACC as well, such as Science and Quality, which handles our registries.  They provide us with outcomes data that can support performance improvement activities and MOC Part IV products.

Melissa Ketchum: I started with ACC 4 years ago, but joined the accreditation team last April, and prior to that I was working on PI programs. In my CME role, we’re working on streamlining our MOC transformation process with ABMS, which is very exciting…the team is growing, we’re making positive changes here, in part because there’s more collaboration now, within our division and in relationship to others.

Melissa Valentine: I’ve been with the ACC for 5 years, when I started as an accreditation specialist.  Now, I am focusing on maintaining reporting and documentation, such as PARS reporting, and I’m currently studying and preparing for the CCMEP!

Maria Ortiz: I’m the senior specialist for the joint sponsorships/co-providerships.  As you may know, there’s a lot of compliance risk in these relationships, since you’re working with a non-accredited provider who may not be well versed in the compliance process.  So you have to spend time working with them on what’s important about the documentation and compliance aspects…there’s a lot of patience required to successfully execute these relationships.

DC: In many large healthcare organizations today, the CME/CPD function is notably less prominent and influential than others and often has to fight for visibility and budget.  Do you agree, and if so, why do you think that is and what can we do as CME professionals to change that?

Ellen: I agree but don’t see the same problem here at ACC, because up until a year and a half ago, Joe Green was our SVP and he’s always been a champion of the Lifelong Learning division.  In fact, Dr. John Gordon Harold’s (current ACC president) theme for his presidential year is “innovation in technology and education”, so we know we have an advocate in him.  We’re extremely fortunate, both having had Joe Green, and currently Mary Ellen Beliveau (Chief Learning Officer and SVP), and Janice Sibley (Associate VP for Academic Affairs), who are supportive of our roles here and are building a strong and vibrant division at ACC, with a focus on a competency-based curriculum. My job description very clearly stated that the CCMEP was a desired quality and trait, in addition to the other requisite qualities.  In the interview process, the credential was brought up and I know that it was a factor in my successful candidacy…and for the team going forward, the credential will be a key criteria for staff selection.  I am proud to lead a team with two other CCMEPs and look forward to Melissa Valentine achieving the credential.

Maria: We’re often considered the “CME Police” by a lot of colleagues, which I’m hoping changes with our attainment of CCMEPs, and Ellen is doing a lot to change that.  She’s doing a lot of “brown bag lunches”, inviting the other groups in the Lifelong Learning division to learn about changes to MOC and the Sunshine Act, and how it affects their work area and projects, all with the purpose of giving more perspective on the role of CME in the bigger plan.

DC: How did you prepare for the CCMEP exam?  Any pointers to share?

ACC Team: For somebody who’s been in the field for a decent amount of time: have confidence in yourself that you know more than you think you know.

DC: Does the CCMEP help you in any way within the ACC, in terms of professional visibility or advancement?

Melissa K: Clearly our leadership values the qualification, and it’s acknowledged…when Maria and I got our CCMEPs, Janice sent out an announcement to the entire division on our accomplishment and encouraging others. 

Ellen: I can see in the future where people will stop asking “why should I get the CCMEP?” to “why don’t you have the CCMEP?”

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

ACC Team: That would really come down to two individuals for us: Joe Green and Marcia Jackson.  Joe is just so knowledgeable, he’s written so many books and you know all the things we discuss have some kind of basis on his work.  Marcia is similar in that respect, such an accomplished individual inside and out of the ACC, and just a wonderful, kind person.

 
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