Live educational meetings have been a mainstay of independent medical education (IME) for many years, because they offer a number of benefits that cannot be found in other forms of education.
- They encourage discussions and networking opportunities with peers and key subject matter experts
Possibly the biggest—and most obvious—benefit of live meetings is that they offer an element of interaction. Attendees are able to meet their peers to discuss current practice and their clinical challenge, interact with noted thought leaders in their field, and make valuable professional connections. The networking opportunities presented by live meetings can be invaluable for physicians, introducing them to new colleagues and potential collaborators who may shape their career moving forward. Indeed, the networking opportunities provided by live meetings are continuously rated as one of the most valuable components of live meetings by attendees.
- They introduce new ideas and approaches
Despite the convenience of online education, many physicians find that it is difficult to focus and engage when surrounded by the usual distractions and interruptions of everyday life. Attending live meetings allows them to disengage from their normal routine and focus solely on education. This focus makes live meetings an ideal venue to introduce new ideas and approaches. A change in setting can stimulate fresh thinking, and the combination of a new setting, networking with new colleagues, and learning about the most recent clinical advances can lead to real and meaningful clinical change. Indeed, in a survey of oncologists and hematologists in the prIME Oncology physician network, 83% of respondents rated international congresses and live meetings as the most useful way of staying updated on the latest advances in clinical care.
- They offer practical experience
Many live meetings offer an element of practical experience that is not often found in other settings. This practical experience may come in many forms, from model patient cases to workshops to hands-on activities. This experience is invaluable when introducing new techniques or products, which may be difficult to incorporate into clinical practice without practical guidance and the experience that comes from in-person learning.
While online education continues to grow in popularity in the IME world, it will never truly replace live meetings. Instead, it is important to provide access to a number of different educational opportunities, including both live and virtual, to suit the needs of the multitude of physician learners.