Continuing medical education (CME) for
many hand surgeons has traditionally involved traveling to an annual conference
out of state. Such meetings provide a change of pace and an opportunity
to network in person with colleagues from afar. However, it is an
increasingly expensive and intrusive method for fulfilling CME credits,
and it is certainly possible to receive credits without receiving much
education. Online continuing medical education has the advantages
of convenience and also a greater likelihood that the intended educational
process will actually occur. Lectures and materials presented at large
conferences can be made available for viewing at home or in the office,
at the time, convenience and safety of the surgeon.
CME programs are being developed across
all medical specialties, including hand surgery. Such programs are
still in their infancy, and it is not likely that they will soon replace
annual meetings. One of the problems of distance education is loss
of the opportunity to meet up with other surgeons in person. For
some, this is too high a price to pay, but at the very least, online continuing
medical education programs provide an excellent avenue for those who cannot
attend a meeting every year, or miss a meeting due to unforeseen difficulties.
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand is developing courses which
will archive live meetings in an online format (6).