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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Altering the Paradigm: Educational Leadership & Change Management in the Medical Professional Society

Dr. Mary Ellen Harnett Schiller.

This paper is based on a case study, and its follow-up, examining educational leadership and change management in a U. S.-based specialty medical society as the organization attempts to alter its continuing medical education paradigm. The case study problem emerged from changes in the realities of medical practice resulting in practitioners experiencing increased constraints on time and access affecting participation in traditional forms of mandated CME. The medical society is examined in its role as a prominent, accredited CME provider making decisions regarding, and implementing, a new educational initiative. The new initiative intends to offer an on-line alternative to existing delivery formats: conferences, symposia and core-curricular courses.

A review of literature yielded a variety of studies on decision-making about, and management of, a shift to alternative CME formats, but none focused on the specialty, plastic surgery. Investigative techniques included participant observation, interviews with key parties within the organization, and document examination. Data analysis of the text of field and interview notes, interview transcripts and documents involved: identification of patterns, development of coding categories, categoric presentation of data, and drawing and verifying conclusions. The analysis revealed the medical society's: posture in a leadership role; approach to managing change; process of decision-making; obstacles - structural, attitudinal, cultural, informational and economic - to implementing the change; and, in the follow-up, assessment of change management effectiveness.

Conclusions acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of the change management process, and suggest the possible usefulness of the revelations to both the examined organization and others facing similar problems in continuing professional, especially medical, education. In addition, the conclusions address the fact that the society's decision-making and implementation activities were affected by a variety of external and internal factors to the extent that: particular options were not identified and evaluated; uncertainties remained constant throughout the process; and, the on-line feature, initially to have been the salient characteristic of the new CME initiative, was compromised. Recommendations are presented for the medical society, as well as for further research by parties interested in educational leadership and change management related to continuing professional education.


Dr. Mary Ellen Harnett Schiller  (United States)
Assistant Director
School of Communication
Roosevelt University

Dr. Mary Ellen Schiller has more than twenty years' experience teaching undergraduate and graduate-level university students in several communications-related degree programs. In addition, she has extensive experience as a consultant to a variety of professional organizations and businesses.

  • Educational Leadership
  • Change Management
  • Continuing Professional Education
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME)

(30 min Conference Paper, English)