Blog Posts


If you are going to a movie, you look at the Rotten Tomatoes score.

If you buy something on Amazon, you often look at the star ratings.

Even when I’m looking for a new movie to watch with my son, I look at Common Sense Media.

The rating system is everywhere.

Even when you are completing an evaluation for an education course, you have to fill out a rating, usually a scale of 1 to 5.

However, those ratings are not shared with attendees or prior to the next conference, potential attendees.

What if ratings were collated in order to show them to Nurses or Pharmacists before they decided to attend the conference or purchase the online course.

Ratings are similar to testimonials and it is also what people already expect at other websites. They are familiar with the system and the familiarity can build trust with your website since the audience knows what it means.

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At some point during school, I made a slow transition from learning to trying to get the right answer. If that was the only step, while not ideal, it wouldn’t be terrible.

Unfortunately, the next transition is a bumpy one – from trying to have the right answer to trying to not have the wrong answer. While subtly different, there’s a huge gap in mindset.

it was in this time period when my Residency Director shared a quote with me:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”


Up to a point, this is a helpful question. To act “as if” and move forward.

Eventually, this isn’t the most important question to ask. Perhaps another subtle difference, but vitally important:

What would you attempt to do, if you didn’t know whether it might fail, and you do it anyway?

It might not work. And you do it anyway.

That’s how we learn.

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What Can Movies Teach Educators?

In a recent article from the Harvard Business Review, we can learn a valuable lesson about challenging the status quo.

The article Marvel’s Blockbuster Machine reviews how Marvel Studios bucks the trend of poor performing sequels by leveraging a few important components for design thinking and marketing. We’ll get to a brief summary – but first – it’s very interesting to see how this applies to healthcare education.

One part of continuing education that stands out is the inherent formulaic structure. While in many cases, this is a plus – making sure courses are meeting a set of basic standards. However, it also applies constraints, which can limit how well the content is learned by attendees and restricts actionable takeaways. When you identify the formula and navigate where the edges are to test collaborative ways to teach and learn, it becomes a win-win.

Marvel changes the formula by leveraging different emotional tones. Likewise, a conference can have different themes and a diversity of teaching methods (didactic, interactive, peer to peer, etc.).

The part that stands out the most is to continue challenging the formula and how Marvel’s audience looks for something different; they expect it. They know what their audience is looking for. It cannot be understated how important this point is.

What is your audience looking for and what do they expect?

As mentioned above, Marvel has recharged the genre by tackling four key points:

  1. Select for experienced inexperience (diversity of ideas)
  2. Leverage a stable core (team building)
  3. Keep challenging the formula (pick a formula to challenge)
  4. Cultivate customer curiosity

I encourage you to read the full article by Spencer Harrison, Arne Carlsen, and Miha Škerlavaj, linked above. It’s well worth 10 minutes of your time today.

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Keep Asking Questions

Every day, I hope to keep learning and keep asking questions.

Learning is the easy part – you can learn about yourself, a colleague, quite literally – anything new. That’s learning.

Asking questions – good questions, is a little more challenging. It takes curiosity, being present, and empathy. Add in a little IQ, EQ, and BQ (body intelligence), and you’re on our way.

Here is a list of my (current) favorite questions:

“What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Gary Keller, from The One Thing

“What would this look like if it were easy?”

Tim Ferriss

“If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”

Michael Bungay Stanier, from The Coaching Habit

“Who’s it for? What’s it for? What is the change you seek to make?”

Seth Godin

OK, this last one, I included three – but they are each very powerful and could stand on their own.

“What do you think?”

Tom Peters, from The Excellence Dividend

“What problem are you solving?”

“Is this actually useful?”

“Will this change behavior?”

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, from Rework

I’m sure there are many more questions we can add into our toolbox. For now, these will get you started and on your way to creating more meaningful…anything.

Keep asking questions – KAQ.

Here are links to books mentioned in this post:

The One Thing

The Coaching Habit


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Not the extroverted, loud type, or the overly talkative type that appears to look like enthusiasm. It’s the passionate and excited type.

The #1 factor of engagement is an enthusiastic teacher.


All the productive conversations about interactive and peer to peer learning likely won’t get as far if there aren’t enthusiastic teachers/leaders involved, enhancing participation and seeing people where they are.

What do you think?

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Who do you want to be?

We can ask healthcare providers what they need to learn – and educators are asking this question often. The interesting part is we often get what people want to learn, not necessarily what they need to learn. Sometimes, they aren’t even sure.

The Missing Question

There are tons of evaluation/survey questions asking about what you want to learn or what topics you find interesting.

However, what if you included, “who do you want to be?”

If this is too existential for learners, you can ask what they hope to accomplish in 1 (or 5) years and look at their goals.

I wonder what types of answers you’d start getting with this one change. If we want better answers, we need to ask better questions.

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Bad Weather

It’s always a concern when planning a conference that speakers will get stuck flying in. Interestingly, sometimes it can be equally challenging flying out!

Several years ago, we were holding an Annual conference and two speakers flew in without issues – unfortunately, their flights to get out were cancelled.

Terrible weather was hitting the East Coast and there were no flights. We were two-thirds through our conference when a small group started diligently working on how to get people back home. Two kind and patient gentlemen might be stuck in Connecticut for some time…

One speaker was flying back to DC and we were able to find the best Amtrack schedule to get him there before his next presentation at 7am the following day…with a few hours of sleep to spare and some recommendations for pizza in New Haven, CT. This apparently was the easy the case.

Who knew how challenging it can be to fly out (and back in) of Arkansas? Well apparently, it was quicker to drive there than wait for another flight. After driving from CT to Philadelphia only to find out the flights were cancelled there too and then fully booked because everyone else was trying to get out too – he decided to drive back to AR.

It was a bit of a nightmare for them. We haven’t dared asked either to come back yet – maybe we’ll plan a webinar 🙂

We all have our own horror stories – I’d love to hear about your favorite.

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Choose Who You Write For

I was talking with someone a few days ago who was building a new product to help people with retirement planning. I asked, “who’s it for,” and the response was “everyone.” Gasp!

There are over 7.5 billion people it the world – the product can’t possibly be for everyone.

Too often we approach the outreach to learners in a similar way. You may have an email list of 500, 5,000, or 50,000. Who you send your marketing email to, is a choice you have.

The cool thing about technology, especially email marketing services, is you can segment your audience…and you should. Using the segmentation and email management features will certainly help you. If you have a home grown product, ask IT if it is already an option.

People have a limited amount of time and when they read emails from you that are not applicable, they unsubscribe or stop reading altogether. You may have heard the worst medication for a patient is the one they aren’t taking. Well, the worst email for your company is the one your audience isn’t reading.

To zoom in a bit more – your email list might include practitioners from different care settings (e.g. hospital, community, long term care, etc.). Each of these learners has a slightly different focus and interest level in what they are learning. Making that assumption, you can create “tags” or separate audiences to better segment your email list and send content that people are interested in reading.

Also worth noting: There are a many people who are already in a niche environment and might think – cool – but not for me. However, there’s typically a way to further breakdown the list. For example, if you create content for hospitals, you can add tags for IT, oncology, ED, administration, etc. etc.

Be creative. Try a segmented list and see what the response is. You get to choose.

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The Cost of Accreditation

Accreditation is a necessary part of education programs. For an educational organization to provide learning to healthcare professionals, the course/class has to be accredited.

But wait, in reality – providing education does not require accreditation. However, getting a Nurse or Pharmacist to take the course, accreditation is a piece learners are looking for.

For an educator to provide accredited courses, they will need to meet standards created and monitored by their respective accrediting organization.

For Pharmacy, accreditation is set through the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE); Nursing is through American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) [or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)]; there is also a joint accreditation option through Joint Accreditation – Interprofessional Continuing Education, which offers accreditation for CME, CNE, and CPE – and recently has added the option to include PAs, Social Workers, Optometrists, and Psychologists.

To give you an idea of the costs for accreditation, here are a couple of tables:


Nursing (annual fees):

Joint Accreditation:

Zooming in on Pharmacy, the annual fee is dependent on how many credits you offer and how many learners you have within those learning activities.

Zooming way in – ESU is calculated by taking the number of continuing education units (CEUs) of a CPE activity multiplied by the number of participants receiving an ACPE statement of credit or certificate for that activity. Adding the total ESU of all your programs puts educators in a specific level, which decides the annual fee.

When deciding to get accredited, there are many pieces to weigh/factor in. Mostly, it comes down to how many courses are you offering per year and how many learners do you anticipate attending (not including administrative and IT components needed to meet ACPE requirements). From there you can decide if the cost of accreditation is affordable or is it less expensive to get your program accredited individually through another organization – with corresponding fees.

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