December 30th, 2019

Welcome to Mandatory Online Module Land!

(What follows is an attempt to derive some humor from those annual online “required learnings” assigned to us each year. Because if you’re in pain, you are not alone!)

Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen! Allow me to welcome you to Mandatory Online Module Land — the fantasy theme park Health Professionals around the world can’t stop talking about!

Fire Safety, Natural Disasters, Chemical Spills, Infection Control, Patient Confidentiality, Tornadoes — important topics all! We’ve figured out how to make them into an online, interactive experience that pulses with excitement.

Here, let us share some of the passionate and enthusiastic feedback we’ve received from health professionals at institutions around the country:

Thinking early retirement versus career change right now.

At the end of 16–18hr days, it is really harrowing to get emails telling me that I was “delinquent” on a training module.

34 modules! Took 2.5 hours; 5–10 multiple choices question quizzes per module to “pass.”

Living this misery right now.

So painful those mandatory trainings.

I’m around 3hrs in and still have those 3 annoying “can’t win” modules left …

Ah … the mandatory trainings. The straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I did this for about 3.5 hrs before the whole family came for Christmas— I have several modules left.

I won’t do it unless I get a text from coordinator telling me they might pull me off service.

I would say it takes me 10–15 hrs a year all said and done. And if I am generous, they include about 5–10 minutes of useful information.

Most of them are boring and cover useless information.

Took me FOUR hours and it was worthless: “don’t worry you’ll learn as you go.” Bad for physicians: horrible for patients.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Of course it does, and we should know — we created the modules, and are therefore the experts.

We have highly validated studies demonstrating that health care professionals who finish these trainings are better than those who don’t.

Better at what? They’re better at finishing the trainings! Isn’t that enough?

To make a good thing even greater, we’ve added three innovative features to make visiting Mandatory Online Module Land even more fun (as if that were possible).

  1. We’ve tied completion of the required modules to your earnings. No, we don’t pay you for the time it takes to visit Mandatory Online Module Land and complete the modules. But we do withhold salary for not finishing on time — which, if you think about it, is the same as paying you! Isn’t that generous? Hey, we could have charged you for the privilege of all this learning!
  2. We’ve given you an few extra days to complete them. You spoke, and we listened. Though visiting Mandatory Online Module Land is fun fun FUN, and the perfect way to spend the holidays, some of you have alternate plans. Some advice:  next year, plan ahead and include a visit to Mandatory Online Module Land during that last week of the year! How about that for a New Year’s resolution?
  3. Certificates! Yes, each completed Mandatory Online Module comes with a Validated Certificate of Completion, suitable for framing, laminating, or some other enshrinement. Display them in your office or exam room! Or print them out and mail to your parents, giving them even more reason to be proud of their highly accomplished offspring!

And for those of you too forgetful to add a trip to Mandatory Online Module Land to your travel itinerary before the due date, we’ve got the reminders down to a science.

Let’s pretend your visits to Mandatory Online Module Land have not yet been completed. We can’t imagine why anyone might delay — what other important things does a Health Professional have to do?

Maybe it’s catching up on your Netflix queue? Editing your videos on TikTok? Some other “worthwhile” (ha ha) pursuit? Hey Doc or Nurse or PA or other Health Professional, lemme tell you — time’s a wastin’! Get back to those modules!

Well no worries — we’ve got you covered! As the due date draws near, through the miracle of computer automation, each day you’ll awake to a personalized, friendly email message from me (whoever I am) — sometimes you’ll get two messages, we care that much!

“Good morning, Health Professional,” these messages will read. “You are delinquent.”

If that’s not supportive, what is?



12 Responses to “Welcome to Mandatory Online Module Land!”

  1. Libby Hohmann says:

    “worthless” is about the NICEST thing you can say about these….

  2. Jake Lazarus says:

    I get the SAME fire extinguisher question wrong EVERY YEAR

  3. Loretta S says:

    I hate the ones with a timer that will not allow you to advance to the next slide until the “correct” amount of time has passed. That’s when I’m grateful that I can open up another window and read an article on the NY Times website while the timer s-l-o-w-l-y winds down.

  4. Keith Ironside, M.D. says:

    The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE, except as punishment for a crime. Passed in the Senate on April 8, 1864 and by the House on January 13, 1865.

  5. Rick Abbott says:

    I’m recently retired, but still have plenty of time and energy and wisdom to function effectively as a physician. I get several calls and emails a week with offers of part time work (they need me more than I need them, and I’d like to help if I could). But, in order to help, I’d have to spend large amounts of time updating all those “merit badges.” So, I’m afraid you’ll find me hiking, skiing, cycling and coaching high school athletics rather than doing what I know how to do best. At least, to coach high schoolers, I only have to update my “safe sport” certification every other year – and that is every bit as inane as how to work the fire extinguisher.

  6. R says:

    Could the author comment on the value or lack thereof of similar efforts of abim?

  7. George Beale says:

    Who profits from this? This is making money for someone.

    • Sanford R. Kimmel says:

      Apparently Health Stream profits, because they run the online courses at the institution that I used to work at (before I retired). How about a shout out for Epic for all those check boxes they want you to do. I often write the information in my note, but if it’s not in a checkbox, Epic states it wasn’t done!

  8. Alex Chen says:

    Hooray, I just tried to log in to Healthstream and all it shows is a nearly blank screen with only 1 link that directs me back to the original login screen! That must mean I’m already qualified?!?!

  9. David Chakoian says:

    Our hospital has a particularly offensive program. Every week I get an email that I have been “assigned a competency.” Nice to know that I’m not competent.

  10. Clarence Jones says:

    I believe HealthStream operates a platform for the delivery of online courseware ranging from OSHA/JCAHO mandated programs to CE & CME programs required by hospital staff as well as the ability for hospitals to create their own training and assign it to their staff. What Paul Sax posted above appears to be something his facility created and delivered through that system.

  11. David says:

    Why do I have these memories of Max Headroom in my head when I read this? Oh wait…I hit my head on the table from falling asleep while watching “Can You Find Your Nearest AED? No? Tik-tok.”

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.