Enhancing interaction using videoconferencing in continuing health education

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Health professionals employ many methods for meeting their continuing education needs. However, one essential element needed to change practice behavior, and consequent patient outcomes, is the use of teaching approaches that provide interaction among participants and the instructor. These interactions should be situated in a clinical context that is relevant to participants. Videoconferencing links an instructor and participants at various remote sites using audio and video communication. A number of programs that use videoconferencing in health education have recently been described in the literature. All of these programs report that this medium has been well received by participants and is a viable alternative for delivering continuing education. There are many reasons why videoconferencing can be justtified. It permits rural health professionals to participate in educational events without leaving their communities, and allows specialists at academic centers to reach learners in many remote communities in a relatively cost-effective manner. However, new approaches to teaching need to be employed with this medium. This paper describes a workshop delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education. This workshop was based on a mini-case, followed by two questions: (1) Why would a 2-hour lecture with slides be inappropriate for videoconferencing? and (2) What specific suggestions would you make in designing this session? Several practical techniques are presented for conducting successful videoconferencing sessions.

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