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August 30, 2009

University of Wisconsin CME: Dean Directs Sunshine on Journal Sentinel Attacks

In this weekend’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Robert N. Golden, MD dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and vice chancellor for medical affairs sets the record straight on their CME program. 

Contrary to articles written in that paper that attempt to discredit the program the University shows that after significant review the CME program at Wisconsin they are being wrongly attacked. 


Bellow is the editorial in its entirety.

Academic integrity in UW's CME program


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has lauded its recent coverage of the continuing medical education program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Editorials, Aug. 16). These articles may mislead readers into viewing our CME program as little more than a paid mouthpiece for commercial interests that seek to manipulate physicians.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

An objective, unbiased assessment confirms that the academic integrity of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Office of Continuing Professional Development is not in question. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the nonpartisan organization that sets and monitors the standards for CME programs across the country, recently completed an independent inquiry, which was triggered by the Journal Sentinel's first article about our CME activities.

The ACCME wrote that we had "implemented a careful and deliberate process to ensure that large amounts of commercial support do not in any way compromise the integrity of the university or the integrity of the continuing medical education program."

This assessment of our Office of Continuing Professional Development is consistent with other recent evaluations of our approach to identifying and managing apparent conflicts of interest.

Within the past few years, we have received public praise from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University and have been cited in the Journal of the American Medical Association for our leadership in managing physician conflicts of interest.

We have never rested on our laurels in this vital area. We always note the constantly changing landscape of medical education and implement cutting-edge standards of excellence. In fact, just a few days after the publication of a Journal Sentinel editorial that criticized our CME programs, the American Association of Medical Colleges cited a UW-produced CME activity that provided a comprehensive primer on swine flu as an example of "best practice" in Web-based CME.

From the very beginning, we have supported U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's Physician Sunshine Act, legislation that would grant the public unprecedented access to information on outside activities by physicians nationwide.

If Sen. Kohl's efforts are successful, patients will be able to make their own determinations as to whether their physician's activities present a problematic conflict of interest - rather than having the news media make that judgment for them.

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is committed to setting the standard in Wisconsin, and through the country, in transparency. For more than a century, our medical education programs have reflected the ideals of the Wisconsin Idea - we embrace a heartfelt commitment to meet the needs of the people of our state.

Journal Sentinel readers would be better served by reporting that presents the complete picture and acknowledges our successes as well as the challenges that we and our peer institutions must address.

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