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Online Education Saves Time for Busy Health Care Professionals; The University of Massachusetts Medical School Offers Online Lectures through UMassOnline.

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The University of Massachusetts Medical School today launches a new online education initiative that will help busy physicians and health care providers stay abreast of current trends, new procedures and techniques. Launched in conjunction with UMassOnline, the online courses are a natural extension of UMass Medical School's Continuing Medical Education (CME) Program which has been delivering 'live' lectures by nationally recognized experts for many years.

In recent years, busy practitioners have found it increasingly difficult to find time to attend lectures, many of which are off-site, to satisfy the continuing education credit (CMEs) requirements for their professions. Though the number varies according to medical specialty, doctors are generally required to have more than fifty hours of continuing medical education per year to maintain their licenses. Health care providers must keep abreast of the broad array of clinical research findings amid the pace of medical advances in order to provide the best care to patients. Traveling to attend lectures while juggling a busy clinical practice can be cumbersome. Online courses are an ideal solution; providing a flexible, Web-based delivery mechanism that increases the accessibility of CME programs for national and potentially international audiences.

UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts' Web-based learning division, began hosting UMass Medical School's Continuing Medical Education program in January 2005. The Medical School joins the other four UMass campuses in a system-wide effort to make education more accessible to the public through affordable, high quality online education.

"Given health care providers' need to remain current and meet their professional CME requirements, combined with a growing desire for more flexible learning environments, it is only natural that we extend the UMassOnline model to Continuing Medical Education," says Cheryl R. Scheid, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Faculty Administration and Interim Provost of UMMS, who leads the new online CME development team. "Online programs combine the best of both worlds -- a videotaped live lecture by a faculty expert, with PowerPoint slides -- producing a learning module that can be readily accessed from home or office. Participants can register and pay online and take the course at their leisure. They can also participate in an interactive discussion with other participants and with the presenters."

The result is a virtual experience that mirrors the on-site experience: lecture "attendees" can view the presentation, listen to the physician's narrative associated with each slide, and participate in discussions with colleagues, all at a time convenient to the learner. Virtual attendees can also print out the class notes and assess their new knowledge using an online, open-book quiz that can be repeated.

This program differs from current online CME programs provided by other medical institutions in two ways. First, the video narration linked to the slide presentations creates a more dynamic learning experience than can be attained in static text-based courses. Secondly, the opportunity to participate in a discussion group enhances the experience.

The first twenty modules available cover specialties including: Neurology, Dermatology, Risk Management, Gastroenterology, and Diabetes. For a brief demonstration, go to http://www.umassmed.edu/cme/online_cme/PrimaryCareDays.cfm or http://www.umassmed.edu/entities/cme/uploads/CMESample.pps. The demo is taken from a course entitled "Preventable Medical Errors" by Eric J Alper, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine.

For More Information:

Physicians interested in enrolling in one of these new learning modules or seeking further information on Continuing Medical Education courses offered by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, can go to http://www.umassmed.edu/cme, or contact Denise Leary at the Office of Continuing Education, 508-856-6943, denise.leary@umassmed.edu.

About UMassOnline

UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts' system online education consortium, delivers accredited, online programs from UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and UMass Medical School via interactive, Web-based learning systems. Online programs are closely coupled with their face-to-face counterparts enabling UMassOnline to offer fully accredited (NEASC) and nationally-recognized programs online. Today, UMassOnline delivers 45 graduate, undergraduate and non-credit degrees and certificates, as well as 300 online courses annually, to diverse, geographically disparate learners. Online programs span the broad range of academic disciplines that UMass is known for: education, IT, nursing, public health, management, criminal justice, hospitality and tourism, and the liberal arts. Introduced in early 2001 by the University President and Board of Trustees to serve community educational needs and increase access to a UMass education, UMassOnline supported more than 16,000 enrollments and generated $15 million in revenue in 2004.
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Date:Feb 3, 2005
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