Published on Monday, October 23, 2017
Media Contact: Alana Bowman
Vickie Skinner, the newly appointed director of Continuing Health Professional Education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is mission focused.
The mission: “A Healthier Mississippi” through continuing education.
“When we provide opportunities for health care providers to learn innovative practices, we are touching the patients at the end of those processes,” Skinner said. Her 23-year career in the Army Reserves is helping her – and her team – accomplish that goal.
A native of New York, Skinner joined the reserves at 17, working in patient administration filing medical records. During this time, she earned her bachelor’s degree from State University of New York, then a commission. Seeking a warmer climate, Skinner completed her graduate education at the University of West Florida.
“When you are from upstate New York, you look for reasons to be somewhere warm,” she said. “Pensacola is so beautiful, there's no returning to New York after that.”
Skinner found her way to Camp Shelby by way of Fort Benning, Georgia. After serving several years in a medical unit at the Hattiesburg post, Skinner became an assistant professor in the Army ROTC program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is now a lieutenant colonel and the deputy director of instruction for a training battalion in the southeast region. Skinner joined the Office of Faculty Affairs at UMMC in 2003 with a focus on faculty development.
“I think my military background has taught me to observe, listen, think of the big picture,” Skinner said. “The job of commanders in the military is to provide vision, guidance and resources and then get out of the way and let people do their job.”
Not just “paying lip service” to the team concept, Skinner sees the value of recognizing the contributions of each person within the division.
“I'm honored to have the opportunity to work with a team as dynamic as this,” Skinner said. “They are already doing great things. I think my job is to keep us focused on moving forward and to learn from them. They are the subject matter experts.”
Along with Skinner, the eight-person team includes Kim Chaney, Ashley Givens, Cheryl Stingily and Kay Watkins, program administrators for dentistry, nursing, on-campus programs and medicine, respectively. Mark Lott serves as the division’s accountant. Kelly Dennis is an administrative assistant and also handles marketing duties, and Bo Lewis manages the conference center space, ensuring that events run smoothly.
“We are thrilled to have Vickie Skinner join our continuing education team,” said Stingily. “She has a lot of good ideas and organizational upgrades for our office.”
Their short-term goals include streamlining processes to make the application for requesting credit more efficient, introducing more interdisciplinary programs, scaling programs to reach a regional audience and tapping into opportunities that will allow events to become financial resources for future education.
The current application for requesting credit to a program can be daunting, Skinner said. She and the team are looking for ways to make it easier for the end user, to make it clear what the criteria is to qualify for credit, and to speed up the process of assigning credit once the event is finished.
Watkins, who is organizing the annual stroke symposium to be held in November, said that accrediting bodies like the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education want to see more training programs incorporating providers from different backgrounds.
“The end results that ACCME hopes to accomplish through us are better patient outcomes, more measureable success in closing learning gaps and putting this new knowledge into practice,” Watkins said.
For each health care profession receiving credit through a program, the course must be approved by a specific accrediting body. For example, if a lecture provides CE credit for both psychologists and social workers, content must be submitted to the American Psychology Association and the Mississippi Board of Examiners and Marriage & Family Therapists for approval.
CHPE facilitates the accreditation aspect so that the various departments around campus don’t have to get bogged down in all the paperwork. Because of the time involved in multiple approvals, CHPE asks that requests for credit be submitted at least 30 days before the event.
When it comes to generating income through CE events, Skinner said that the Department of Dermatology, chaired by Dr. Robert Brodell, professor of dermatology, provides a good example of soliciting outside support through exhibitors. Accrediting bodies have strict guidelines for income from industry sponsors, but the money earned helps lower registration fees for members of the department and provides funding for future educational events.
“The Department of Dermatology has 10 faculty members who love to teach,” Brodell said. “We see continuing medical education as part of our mission. An extra benefit is the money we make to support our monthly visiting professor program.”
This is one area that Skinner hopes to scale up in the future. “It can pay for itself, and it can also be a revenue stream for future professional development for faculty or staff.”
Hosting CE events also provides a venue to highlight, throughout the region, the research advances and innovative clinical practices accomplished at the Medical Center.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for our faculty and providers to showcase all the terrific things we are doing here.”
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