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This month establishes a milestone for CME LLC Not only is it the company's 11th annual U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress, it also marks the 20th anniversary of the company's first conference. CME LLC grew out of a desire to reach and educate more people regarding psychiatric issues. One way to do this was by developing high-quality continuing education opportunities.
This month establishes a milestone for CME LLC Not only is it the company's 11th annual U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress, it also marks the 20th anniversary of the company's first conference.
Founded by psychiatrist John L. Schwartz, M.D., in 1978, CME LLC grew out of his desire to reach and educate more people regarding psychiatric issues. One way to do this was by developing high-quality continuing education opportunities. The company later expanded its efforts with a psychiatric newspaper, Psychiatric Times, which blends topical news stories with peer-reviewed clinical articles.
In January 1985, the first issue of Psychiatric Times made its debut with 16 pages in a bimonthly format. At that time, it was the least-read of 11 psychiatric publications. Now, 14 years later, Psychiatric Times is No. 1 in its field, and has been for the past six years.
The number of CME LLC continuing education meetings has also grown from one meeting in 1978 to 160 meetings in 1998. Staff has expanded. In 1978, there was one employee, and Schwartz. Today, the company is 96 strong.
Meeting Customer Needs
Three divisions within CME LLC-publishing, meetings and multimedia-specifically serve the continuing medical education needs of its customers.
In order to help physicians earn continuing medical education credit, Psychiatric Times, the flagship offering of CME LLC, publishes a category 1 article monthly as part of its regular editorial format. Other category 1 articles are supported by unrestricted educational grants and are printed as supplements.
The meetings division currently holds weekend meetings, half-day meetings and the annual U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress-giving physicians their choice on how to obtain continuing medical education credit.
The multimedia division of CME LLC is responsible for developing home-study educational products, such as audio and video courses. This division recently debuted its first psychiatric CD-ROM on the popular topic "Psychiatric Board Review," as well as a subscription audiotape club called "Audio Monthly," which sends subscribers a monthly audiotape from one of CME's many conference offerings.
In 1995, the company launched its World Wide Web site, Mental Health InfoSource. The site currently averages 1.3 million hits per month. Physicians can go online and register for conferences or read full-text articles from Psychiatric Times.
In addition, patient help and information is available. "Ask the Expert," is a popular interactive question-and-answer site, hosted by Psychiatric Times' columnist Ron Pies, M.D. "Ask the Bipolar Expert" is a similar format with Charles Bowden, M.D., fielding questions.
CME also sponsors live chat events once a month during which participants can pose questions to experts in different specialties, such as depression and anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and general mental health. In keeping with CME's commitment to provide quality information, Mental Health InfoSource now includes nearly 1,000 links to other noteworthy and informative medical sites.
In August, CME LLC ventured into the distance-learning arena with its popular Las Vegas Psychopharmacology Course. Those unable to attend the conference can, by linking with the Internet in their home or office, listen to audio recordings or view syllabi and slides from sessions that interest them.
Recently, the company reached out to primary care physicians with a bimonthly publication, Medicine & Behavior, and is offering continuing education meetings as a result of the purchase of San Diego-based Continuing Medical Education Associates (CMEA) Inc., the largest independent provider of primary care meetings in the United States. The company is now hard at work creating a second major annual meeting, the U.S. Geriatric and Long-Term Care Congress, which will launch in the summer of 1999.
A Look Back
What were the early years like at CME LLC? Diane Turner, an early CME employee who currently serves as faculty director, remembers the sometimes enjoyable, sometimes stressful job of single-handedly putting out Psychiatric Times, organizing continuing medical education meetings, paying bills and serving patients.
"I started working for John in 1985," said Turner, "and at that time, he had only one other person on staff. They were putting on about six meetings a year, and had just come out with the first issue of Psychiatric Times. In addition to that, John was still seeing his private patients."
Within a few months, the meetings and the magazine grew, and Schwartz slowly began phasing out of psychiatric practice.
Turner remembers the dedication that was required to put out a monthly psychiatric magazine on a shoestring.
"We had to do everything ourselves," she said. "This included 'pasting up' the magazine, then taking it to the local typesetters, where I [virtually] lived, going back and forth all day long."
There also was great difficulty selling advertising in the early days. "No one knew who we were," Turner explained, "so they were reluctant to advertise in the paper. John and I used to buy stamps at the local post office and send the magazine out to potential advertisers just to familiarize them with us."
However, once the advertising started coming in, it didn't make their jobs any easier.
"Sometimes ads came in late, or pulled out, so we were constantly having to start from scratch. Some nights John would sleep in the office, doing a lot of the work himself to get the magazine out the door."
Once Psychiatric Times became better recognized in the field, it caught the notice of potential advertisers. This attention signified the company's first major growth spurt, as more advertising meant a larger publication, and thus a need for more employees.
One of those new employees was David DeNinno, who now serves as CME LLC's president, COO and publisher.
DeNinno remembers that when he started in 1988, CME had just begun organizing their first annual meeting, the U.S. Psychiatric Congress. They had only one product offering, a home study course on malpractice and liability.
"John was committed to producing high-quality information and meeting customers' needs," he said. "That appealed to me, so I joined the company."
In looking back over his years with CME LLC, DeNinno is especially proud that the company has never deviated from its original intention, which was to provide high-quality, useful information to health care professionals and interested consumers by employing outstanding people and exceeding customer expectations.
"I think what got me excited in coming here, and keeps me excited today, was John's comment that as a psychiatrist he was only able to help one person at a time, but CME LLC educates tens of thousands of providers in a variety of specialties to become better clinicians. And in some small way, that's helping improve the quality of life for millions of patients every year.
"Everyone at CME LLC, takes great pride in that."