An Interview with President Gayla Bruner

Diana Durham, Ph.D., Alliance Director and Board liaison to the Almanac, sat down with Alliance President Gayla Bruner to discuss their history together, the profession and Gayla’s plans as president.

Diana Durham: For those CE professionals who may not know you well, can you share a bit of your background and tell us what led you to this point in your career?

Gayla Bruner: Life is a journey. From an early age, I followed the road signs to a career in healthcare. My father was a hospital and nursing home administrator in a rural community in northern Missouri. My first summer job as a teen was helping in the admissions office, filing Medicare forms. With training, I progressed to doing admissions and discharge paperwork after regular office hours and helping with inventory for year-end reports. That experience allowed me to become familiar with people in my community who provided healthcare every day to my family and friends. I admired the important service they provided it was no surprise then, that nursing would be my chosen field of work. Like many members of the Alliance, I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of my career what I would be doing now, but, like others, I see this as an opportunity to improve the care healthcare providers give to their patients every day.

DD: Let’s talk about where we met. Wasn’t it with the State and Regional Organizations Committee?

GB: Yes, I think that’s right. We had a mutual friend and mentor named Mark Gregg, who was the founding father of the Texas Alliance for Continuing Medical Education (TACME). TACME was invaluable to me as I was learning the basics about CME/CE, and many state and regional organizations continue to do that for professionals across the country. When I began to attend Alliance meetings, even without anyone else from my workplace attending, it was comfortable because there were members from TACME, like Mark and Sterling North and Billie Dalrymple to introduce me to others like you!

DD: So, why become the Alliance president?

GB: From the year I joined the Alliance, I have looked to this organization, with its talented members and leaders, to help me become better at my job. In return, I’ve received enlightenment, resources, support, friendships, new connections, challenges and much more. I have been able to experience firsthand what passion for a profession looks like. I have often said that I can’t imagine doing my job without the Alliance and our members beside me. It is my privilege to serve as president in 2017 and to give back a portion of what I have been given.

DD: What are your goals/aspirations for 2017?

GB: What is that familiar phrase? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” The Alliance, like everything else in this world, has gone through its ups and downs. This is an exciting time to be an Alliance member. Thanks to a lot of hard work done by former and current leaders, a dedicated staff and members who give their all for this organization, the Alliance is in a great place right now. That doesn’t mean that we set the dial to autopilot; it means that we can build on strengths and bring increased value to members. Through our updated strategic plan, the Alliance Board, committee chairs, provider section leads, work groups and staff will be listening to members to hear what they express in terms of member benefits. We can use some time to evaluate what is working well across the organization and what needs to be updated or improved.

Above all, I would like the Alliance to be seen as an organization that supports our profession and helps us to have stability and resources when the environment is facing much uncertainty.

Associations and collaborations with other organizations have always provided a multitude of benefits to the Alliance. The Strategic Alliances Task Force recently completed a report providing recommendations to the board about opportunities for alignment and/or increased communication. I am looking forward to those discussions and providing increased value for members.

DD: Where do you hope to lead the organization and the profession?

GB: When the decision was made in 2012 to change the name of our organization and the focus for membership to include interprofessional healthcare educators, we knew it would take some time — as any culture change does. There are challenges because we don’t want to diminish the value of any profession or member section, yet we know that the future is to improve the way we educate and deliver care as teams and team members. We still have work to do in order to fully embrace and acknowledge the educators that make up the healthcare team — and to acknowledge and incorporate the patient!

DD: What are those areas where work is being done to improve member benefits and education?

GB: We’re improving the member experience in many ways:

  • Alliance educational products: Alliance members look to this organization to help them through the rushing water to find pearls. To that end, the Education Committee is finalizing work focused on refining the Alliance National Learning Competencies and utilizing them as a basis for educational products.
  • The CHCP certification program: The first goal in the strategic plan for 2016-2018 is “Professionalism,” with the first objective being to implement a professional credential by delivering a certification based on a minimum set of competencies by December 2017. The Alliance acquired the Certification of Healthcare Continuing Education Professionals (CHCP) in 2016. That exam has not been updated recently, so the Alliance formed the CHCP Commission earlier this year and is redeveloping the examination to ensure that it is in alignment with the current roles and responsibilities that healthcare continuing education professionals have in today’s world. This revised examination will be completed and posted by the end of 2017.
  • The Quality Initiative Committee has been recently reorganized within the Alliance. They are developing goals for 2017 that will offer membership resources and education and move us forward in our quality improvement journey.
  • “The Insider’s Guide to Medical Education Grants – Strategies for Effective Lifecycle Management” was published through collaboration between the MSS and the IACE member sections. This guidebook marks a significant contribution, is available to all members and offers insight to providers who are seeking funding for education in their organizations. (It can be found in the Alliance store:
  • The Research Committee has developed a member survey, which has been distributed, and we are looking forward to those results and the products or initiatives that may bring.
  • Additionally, the Membership Committee is always busy, and they have a number of initiatives such as the revised volunteer process to engage more members in the Alliance, improvements in the mentoring program and changes to membership models. Where do we stop? The list goes on and on!

DD: What stokes your passion for your work?

GB: I’m passionate about improving the care provided to patients. Just like others, I like to know when the work I do makes a difference. I’m energized when I have the opportunity to be a part of a team where the other team members share that passion. Unfortunately, we all have stories where the care that a patient received “could have” or “should have” been better! We know or have heard how it feels to be on the receiving side of less than optimal care. There are so many opportunities to change those stories through education, and I love having a role in bringing about that change.

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