At the time of this writing, we are currently still in the throws of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s challenging to think about traveling at this point in time. But, things will go back to some semblance of normal, and I promise you that most countries’ economies cannot withstand a lack of tourism dollars for too long. Plus, daydreaming about CME vacations is a wonderful break from the reality that is the pandemic. With that said, here you go:
Are you interested in an all-expenses paid trip for you and your family? I thought so. Being smart with your CME money and time can easily be leveraged to get just that, and I want you to start looking at CME as an opportunity to have annual or bi-annual vacations through your employer.
Whether you want to learn about Wilderness Medicine while hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro, or learn about Endocrinology while cruising around the South Pacific, or even build your own CME, there are copious opportunities to find some travel CME. There are plenty of companies whose business it is to offer enticing CME opportunities, you just need to know where to look. You also need to know how strict the CME policies are for your employer, as not all will allow for seminars or conferences outside of a certain geographic region.
(SIDE NOTE: I once had to go through the entire Caribbean region, country-by-country, to see which countries my employer would recognize for CME reimbursement…it felt like a geographic version of the childrens’ game “Go Fish”)
Many employers allow you to be reimbursed for flights, food, rental cars, housing and other things related to the CME activities that you have invested in (keep in mind that alcohol purchases are RARELY reimbursed). Remember, all of the expenses should be put on your credit card and then reimbursed, to continue to build your rewards points for future CME. The main thing to remember is to keep your receipts, especially itemized receipts if eating or drinking with others. Keep in mind that the average CME money won’t allot for a lavish lifestyle while traveling, but if you shop around for best pricing on flights, housing and other necessities, and combine your CME funds with credit card points, you may just be able to pull off an extravagant vacation.
- CREATE THE OPPORTUNITY: If you want to do a specific type of trip or visit a specific place, but yet can’t find an opportunity that fits, then MAKE ONE. Companies such as Travel Medical Seminars allow you to establish the location, dates and materials to be studied, then sends you everything you need, and allows you a truly D.I.Y. CME experience. This works well for those wanting a “stay-cation” (Imagine learning from the comforts of your own home, in your pajamas, while eating out at local restaurants each night) and also those with some wanderlust.
(PRO TIP: Use TMS to build a vacation around visiting a friend or family member, as you can spend time with them, likely cut out housing costs, and make your CME money go further.)
- GO BIG OR STAY HOME: If your leftover CME money rolls over to the next fiscal year, then consider saving up and going bigger with each CME adventure.
- PARTIALLY FUND SOMETHING AMAZING: If you’re one of the lucky ones whose employer has no set limitations on where you can do CME activities, then you would be silly not to take advantage of getting reimbursed for part of an expensive adventure. Although it may not cover all of the costs to go to Queenstown, New Zealand through MER, having your CME money allotment to partially-fund the trip-of-a-lifetime is surely a good start!
- THE MORAL DILEMMA. It’s a rarely-discussed fact that many people skip out on some, if not all, of the CME activities when they go on CME vacations. Some of these folks will also fraudulently claim credit for having attended the activities that they skipped. Given that there are potential consequences with this practice, I DO NOT recommend attempting this, especially because you may be audited in the future, and your employer may not be pleased with your behaviors if they catch wind. But, in the end, you will make the choice and have to live with the consequences. I DO recommend that you stay within your moral character when making decisions, consider only signing up for companies that run half-day activities, or that you choose to attend and claim credit for only the activities you are interested in. (TIP: Remember that if you’ve built your CME system correctly, you do not NEED to get all of the credits, as you’ve banked more than enough with the strategies I’ve outlined in other posts for you…but please, ask around to others in your organization or HR and make sure it is kosher for you to not attend the entire CME activity.)
DISCLAIMERS: 1) The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer. 2) I don’t know what I don’t know, so feel free to message me if you don’t agree with something that you read. 3) I don’t earn any money from the companies that I listed within this post, but hope to someday without selling my integrity (Call me 📞 Travel Medical Seminars, MER, or any other company who specializes in Travel CME)
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