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July 26, 2012

Gordon West CME Leader and Advocate 1951-2012

Gordon West
The continuing medical education (CME) community lost one of its leaders and advocates this past week.  Gordon West, PhD, President of the Society of Academic Continuing Medical Education (SACME) passed away, on July 17, 2012.  Dr. West was 61, according to his obituary.  

For the last 12 years, West served as the Director of Continuing Education at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower.  “We are one of the few CME educational providers catering to a multidisciplinary group of health care professionals from the medical, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, dental and social service fields,” West said.  At the Annenberg Center, Dr. West directed and designed continuing education programs while ensuring every activity meets essential guidelines for credit; he was also involved in the development of long-range evaluation tools to assess program effectiveness. 

Dr. West was also Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Southern California Medical Education Council; a surveyor for the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME); a certified continuing medical education professional (CCMEP); and a member of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education in the Health Professions.  He was a Presbyterian minister for 35 years and a professor at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California for 15 years.  

Dr. West began his term as SACME President in June 2012.  He aspired to enhance working relationships among CME professional peer groups and intensifying the organization's network with other national associations.  “I also want to position CME as more than just issuing certificates and credit.”  He added, “I want to elevate how we educate patient-care teams among our multidisciplinary groups . . . to foster an ‘extended care’ team concept.”  Reflecting on the challenges and the future of the CME industry, Dr. West believed his term would be intriguing mainly due to the considerable uncertainty facing the profession.  Due to the current physician shortage, Dr. West believed technology would be a significant factor in CME delivery. 

“Physicians are busy balancing patient loads and managing patient costs, therefore, continuing education requires more targeted and convenient delivery.” Dr. West added, “We may need to design CME activity into smaller learning segments.”  Whether applying his people skills, exploring, designing, or launching a new program, Dr. West is sure about one thing - continuing education and learning are an ever- evolving work in progress. 

Dr. West earned a Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1977.  In 1992, he received his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Florida.  He joined Eisenhower Medical Center in 1995 as chaplain and employee assistance coordinator and transferred to the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower and the CME profession in 2000.  An accomplished educator and speaker, he conducted multiple-subject medical grand rounds, and had several published articles. 

In his kind demeanor, Gordon affected many of us. 

Gordon was a quiet leader who truly was one of the really nice guys in this or any field.” Stated Todd Dorman, Associate Dean for Continuing Education at Johns Hopkins. 

Lois Colburn, Executive Director of University of Nebraska Center for Continuing Education expressed deep respect, “Gordon was a treasured colleague and friend who had the wonderful ability to bring people to consensus in a quiet, thoughtful manner that left everyone feeling like a winner.   The very skills a good leader needs.”

Melinda Steel, a former SACME president reminisced, “Gordon was one of those people who was easy to talk to about anything.  When I first met him, we talked more about family and faith than about professional issues.  I knew immediately that he was the kind of person I could be friends with regardless of our professional connection.  He was a strongly ethical person but also compassionate and caring in making sure that he listened and heard all sides before gently guiding a decision process.” 

Melinda was touched by his enthusiasm “Gordon’s passions in the CME world were much the same as mine.  He believed in strengthening the ties between professional groups and working together to reach a common goal.  He believed CME was more than just providing continuing education to physicians; it was about enhancing quality through interprofessional teams to improve patient care and outcomes.”

Todd Dorman sums up everyones feelings in his reflections “I will miss him more than I can find words to say.” 

The family requests donations be made to the American Heart Association .

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Dr. West was my mentor at my first Alliance Conference and we remained in touch. He was so helpful and insightful at not only that first meeting but moving forward as well.He was a great mentor, mind and man. He will be missed.

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