Trying to Get My Message Right

It has been 7 months since we started the LinkedIn online journal club, Psychiatry Online Lifelong Learning (POLL). I’m a little shocked that it has been that long and I’m sorry to say there has been little to no participation. Psych Practice blogger has recently published a post asking readers for their thoughts on how we could improve it. The link to it is in the following tweet:

POLL ButterflyOr if you have trouble accessing it, you can follow the link here. I see that we now finally have the sought after butterfly logo, wings forming an open journal. I think it would be a shame to abandon the POLL project because of the puzzling lack of active member discussion.

I can tell you what makes me especially reluctant to give up on our independent lifelong learning project. On 6/25/2014 I had an hour-long telephone conversation with a representative of a public relations firm conducting those interviews connected with the Iowa Physician Acceptability Survey on Maintenance of Licensure (MOL).

Remember that? I had posted a few times about it because it’s one of the infernal MOL implementation pilot projects on which the Iowa Board of Medicine (IBM) is collaborating with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). Have a look at the March 8 post for a reminder.

As an aside, I would not have known that the public relations firm had been trying to contact me until IBM sent me an email message on 6/24/2014, claiming that I had not been responding to their email inquiries to schedule a telephone interview time.

In fact, no one had tried to contact me that I know of. Like many people I keep my email messages for a year or longer, and there was nothing from them in my junk email folder either.

Becky Watt Knight Sr Vice President GYMR

Becky Watt Knight Sr Vice President GYMR

Anyway the IBM gave me direct contact information and I got in touch with the interviewer, who is with a group called Getting Your Message Right, and their web site is Ms. Knight is the Senior Vice President and is a skillful interviewer with impeccable manners. She asked me a lot of questions about what I thought about Continuing Medical Education (CME), self-assessment, the erosion of skills and knowledge amongst physicians, and whether or not there is a need for something besides CME to assist doctors in their pursuit of lifelong learning.

When Becky and I scheduled this interview, she said that it would take about 30 minutes, but some doctors had used as much as 40. I said I probably wouldn’t take nearly that long.

As I said, we talked for an hour, nearly running into the time of another meeting I had scheduled. She had many prepared questions, many of which called for simple “yes” or “no” answers and which I liberally sprinkled with heavy doses of my low opinion of Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and MOL as vehicles for lifelong learning.

I basically said “MOC and MOL suck” for most of the hour–which she took extremely well. I told her what I’ve been telling my readers for years about the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the FSMB and their misguided MOC agendas. Click in the menu on my home page entitled “Let’s Rap About Maintenance of Certification”—that’s what tried to summarize in an hour.

I’m anything but a public relations expert. I’m a geezer doctor on a mission to stop processes which I don’t believe will serve patients well. I hope Becky gets my message right.

And that brings me back to POLL. One of the main goals of that project is to offer a more interesting, constructive, free, and relevant alternative to the pablum of MOC. It looks like folks would rather be zombified by the MOC and fettered by the MOL.

It is partly because doctors are perceived as not engaging in lifelong learning that leads to nonsense like MOC and MOL being promulgated by corporations and the government, the members of which never asked us what we would like to see in a lifelong learning program. So maybe readers and the members of POLL can help us understand whether or not they joined our discussion group because they’re pretending to be interested in lifelong learning. Or maybe we’re just not getting our message right.

I don’t think Becky was pretending to listen to me. She offered me a gift card as a token of appreciation for my time, which I politely declined. And I wasn’t pretending when I told her I had not found our interview as unpleasant as I’d expected.

I hope I got my own message right.




  1. Best to challenge MOC Mafia practices at all levels, not only with these blogs and local alternative CME programs. For ex, challenge costly Harvard, NEJM, or other Board review courses which should promote themselves DOUBLY as scholarly learning enterprises independent of Board scare tactics. And these CME courses should be offered at HALF the price. Counter ABMS false marketing, false advertising, false promotionals at every opportunity using the words “unelected, unaccountable monopoly testing industry” again and again. And tithe regularly, every month at least, to AAPS and their tax exempt American Legal Health Foundation. Absent a miracle within the AMA Council on Medical Education, our medical trades will achieve constititutional due proces and relief only through help from the US Courts and Federal Trade Commission with antitrust litigation. Antitrust is the only standard understood by the public and the Courts. The public and US judges, even hospital managers and CMS leaders, do not wish to deal with the technical problems and commercial aspects of these peculiar tests within our profession.


  2. Jim,

    I don’t know if you recall my prediction about POLL or not. For comparison practically all of the physician discussion threads on LinkedIn have also died. I feel like anything I post there is wasted effort. The only other long term physician thread was the APA listserv and members have also stopped posting there.

    It appears that you have to be highly motivated and have a clear agenda to keep posting. The good news is that the ideal venue is a blog. I think the blog also has the added advantage that you can link to it and the blogger can control the responses to prevent the questionable or abusive responses.

    I think physicians are still on the defensive on the MOC/MOL issue. The recent ABPN e-mail has been seen by some as concessionary, but they are really not giving up much. Physicians never seem to have learned the lesson that politics in these battles is everything and you have to be in it to win it. Unless that happens some day soon things will only get uglier.


    • Hi George,

      I see your point about LinkedIn discussion groups. I still think it’s too bad POLL has no participation. I tend to agree that the blog venue is probably more sustainable and likely more accessible.

      I’m glad somebody else besides me thinks the ABPN changes for MOC are little more than window-dressing. I sent a link to this blog post to the Iowa Board of Medicine.


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