A popular aphorism warns that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This old saying applies as readily to independent medical education (IME) as it does to other aspects of life. Activities planned at the last minute, with little advanced thought given to strategy, are almost always less successful than those that are carefully planned in advance. This is especially true when considering multicomponent educational curricula and long-term educational strategy.
There is a need for IME activities at all times of the year, and advanced planning allows for the identification of gaps and times of greatest need. Furthermore, because physicians learn in many different ways, strategic advanced planning can ensure that different activity formats are well-distributed throughout the calendar. By planning activities well in advance, medical education companies can provide a careful balance of live, virtual, and written offerings throughout each part of the year, rather than having education crowded around specific times or in a single format.
Additionally, advanced planning of activities allows for a presence at high-profile medical society meetings, such as the European Society for Medical Education (ESMO) or the American Society for Hematology (ASH) annual meetings. These conferences and others are highly sought and competitive, with few slots for IME activities, and great demand. Such conferences set their schedules well in advance, and application deadlines for satellite symposia are often 6 to 9 months in advance of the meeting.
Planning activities well in advance also allows for better promotion. If all the components of a multipart educational activity are planned well ahead, they can be promoted as a package in order to gather an audience of interested and motivated learners. For example, if an activity at a major society meeting will be followed by an online activity or a series of regional meetings, these can be advertised to attendees of the society meeting, increasing awareness and drawing an audience.
Planning is the key to success in every industry, including IME. By planning educational activities well in advance and developing carefully thought-out educational curricula, you can ensure not only that your activities are of the highest quality, but also that they reach the widest audience.