42nd Alliance Annual Conference Highlights

By Debra L. Gist, MPH, FACEHP, Conference Chair


At the 2017 Alliance conference, approximately 1,200 professional healthcare educators from various settings and sides of the equation gathered to learn and discuss how using their expertise in learning science and measurement can be combined with leadership to shape the future of the profession. Friday’s keynote speaker, Dave Anderson, a leadership training consultant, gave an entertaining presentation on “The Courage to Lead.” Dave and his father, General James L. Anderson US Army (Ret.), both West Pointers, recently published the book “Becoming a Leader of Character: 6 Habits That Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home.” Dave shared lessons learned from his West Point days, one of which was to learn to literally take it on the chin, keep your cool and move forward. Not a bad analogy for what we, as educators, need to be able to do; if we get knocked down, stay professional, keep strategizing and move forward.


Saturday’s keynote speaker was Lia Turner, a young woman who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 9. Lia related her story in an authentic and powerful manner that touched many of us deeply. She described her journey from when she was initially diagnosed to now and moved many in the audience to tears. With approximately 50 percent of Americans dealing with a chronic condition, the level of Lia’s maturity for her brief 20 years on this earth was remarkable and shone through as she described her strategies for always surrounding herself with a team. Lia, thank you for your courage! We will strive mightily to incorporate the patient voice as we design continuing education activities, and we understand the need to impart to healthcare providers that they need to consider the nonmedical aspects of their patients’ lives and to care for the whole person.

A running theme throughout the conference was that of the value proposition for professional healthcare educators. Marcia Jackson and Phil Dombrowski facilitated a small-group workshop on creating value propositions for the various settings in which our members work. Scott Weber led a session on articulating your value proposition. These linked sessions came together at the end with a concluding panel discussion that provided attendees with opinions, experiences, challenges and strategies on the value proposition for those working in hospital and health systems, industry, medical education companies and medical specialty societies. Joe Green served initially as the facilitator for this panel and, perhaps fittingly, passed the baton to Scott Weber halfway through the panel session.


The conference had sessions on MACRA, professional development, learning science, ACCME/ACPE/ANCC accreditation and other regulations, performance/quality improvement, systems thinking and interprofessional education that are just too numerous to list here. However, I thank each and every presenter for their hard work and efforts on behalf of the conference. What a great job!

I end this highlights article by thanking the membership for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving as chair of the 42nd Alliance Annual Conference. I also thank the excellent Alliance staff who helped and supported us at every turn during the planning and execution of the conference. And, finally, I give a big shout out of kudos to my colleagues on the Alliance Conference Committee. It was a team effort all the way! What an honor to have worked with y’all.

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