A common refrain in the world of independent medical education (IME) is that one size does not fit all. This is true for different live meeting settings, for the information presented in different types of online activities, and for different age groups of learners. One circumstance in which this is particularly true is when educational activities occur in different regions of the world. While “facts are facts” wherever you are, the educational needs of a population may vary widely across the world, and it is essential that IME activities are appropriately tailored to meet the educational needs of the local audience of learners.
One of the biggest differences in educational needs across the world is in accurately representing current practices and standards of care. Because every region is subject to its own regulatory approval process and available treatments may vary by country, it is important that an educational activity provide accurate, useful information for local audiences. The best way to do this is to ensure a local moderator is involved in the activity from the beginning. Even if speakers come from across the world, the local moderator can provide insight and expertise on treating patients in the region and review presentations in advance to ensure they are providing the most up-to-date and useful information for the local audience.
A major issue faced by many regional meetings is that languages and customs can vary from place to place. While allowances are made for large, international meetings, local IME activities should expect to adapt to the needs of the learners. In addition to engaging a local moderator who is familiar with the area and the needs of the learners, using local speakers or simultaneous translation can ensure that learners are engaged and understand the educational message regardless of their mastery of another language. Learning in a second language can be difficult, especially when the information presented is new or challenging. Providing an opportunity for learners to hear new data in their first language can make a major difference in both the impact of the activity and how it is received.
There are many benefits to hosting local IME activities in different regions across the world. These activities allow learners to engage with their peers and communicate ideas and challenges and develop opportunities for collaboration. However, differences in local treatment standards, regulations, customs, and languages can post a challenge when developing these activities. Using local moderators, providing opportunities for translation, and paying careful attention to local customs can help ensure IME activities shine in any region.