Executive summary by Norbert Gleicher

We are here summarizing findings of a worldwide survey of 2013 professionals, offering reproductive services to infertile patients (67% physician, 28% embryologists/biologists, 3% nurses and 2% others), as to how they relate to continuous medical eduction (CME). Interestingly, only approximately half of respondents (54%) came from countries where CME is mandatory; yet 70% felt CME was important for them.

Amongst different ways to pursue CME, medical conferences ranked highest (22%), even exceeding the reading of medical journals (21%), with all other activities lagging significantly. Most, interestingly, a very large majority (78%), however, preferred small conferences (<200 attendees) to large meeting (>500 attendees). Quite remarkable also is the low value placed on informal communications (11%), industry symposia (8%) and poster presentations (2%) in large meetings, suggesting that a large majority prefers meetings where scientific materials are presented comprehensively and authoritatively by known experts.
In other words, most respondents to this survey are not interested in most recent research findings which, down the road, may or may not enter mainstream medicine.

The survey presents an interesting dichotomy by giving a very low ranking to industry symposia at large conferences (8%); yet, overwhelmingly favoring industry symposia to be presented on line (83%). This could be interpreted to say that respondents do not want to waste their time on message from industry at meetings but are very open to receiving these messages in their home offices online. Such an interpretation is also supported by only moderate interest in exhibition areas during medical conferences, with approximately half of respondents (51%) placing only moderate value on visiting exhibition areas in advancing their education.

Quite remarkable, 56% of respondents note that they by now already receive more than half of their educational content via electronic means, yet, equally remarkable, is the very sparse use pharma company websites by respondents.

Considering all of these responses, it is not surprising that 80% unequivocally answered with yes when asked whether they would be interested in joining a free "Virtual University" for education in reproductive medicine on IVF-Worldwide (20% answered with maybe), and 84% unequivocally answered with yes when asked whether they would be interested in an expanded video library (15% answered with maybe).

For those among us who for many years have been involved in CME, few of here received responses come as a surprise. We have known for many years that in all medical specialties practicing physicians' interests and professional needs differ from those of academicians, and especially scientists. The practicing physician seeks out CME programs, which offer comprehensive, reliable and easily applicable update summaries with relevance to their daily practice. The academician/scientists, in turn, is interested in most recent research developments. In this survey represented professionals came, almost equally divided from single physician practices, small group practices (<5 physicians) and larger group practices. It would be interesting to further investigate to what degree responses to in this survey asked questions differ based on practice size and academic affiliations.

Norbert Gleicher, MD
Medical Director and Chief Scientist,
The CHR President, Foundation for Reproductive Medicine.