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The Telehealth Lecture Process: A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

by Mary E. King

The Telehealth group features many monthly lectures. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Powell, Interim Continuing Education Specialist, and discussed what goes into creating a lecture.

What are the major components of preparing for a lecture?

“I like to think of UNCCN’s lectures as being divided between human and technological elements. In terms of people, we need to build working relationships with presenters and site coordinators in order to make things work. Indeed, we couldn’t make these presentations work without them. With technology, we have the various pieces of hardware, such as the video codecs, audio microphones and speakers, and computers to control the equipment. We also use different software programs, such as WebEx, GoToWebinar, the UNCCN website, and the Learning Management System portal developed by Alan Brown.”

Are there different kinds of lectures?  If so, what are they?

“At the moment, UNCCN offers four types of lectures, which are designed for different audiences. The Medical and Surgical Oncology lectures and the RN and Allied Health lectures are geared for oncology professionals and are designed to provide them with continuing education credits, so as to help them keep up with the latest research and to maintain their licenses.

UNCCN also provides the Community Lunch & Learn lectures and the North Carolina Community College lectures, which are aimed at a lay public audience, such as individuals who have or know someone who has cancer, people who are generally interested in medical issues, and college students who might be interested in pursuing a medical career.

With these lectures, UNCCN tries to reach out to as many people as possible so as to help them learn more about, and to understand to a greater degree how cancer affects us, how we deal with it, and how we care for people who have it.”

What happens if a committed presenter has an emergency and is unable to present?

“First off, it is important to note that UNCCN has worked with wonderful presenters who are eager to share their expertise. As a result, there have been very few cancellations.

Second, UNCCN thanks the presenter for their willingness to present and work with them to reschedule their presentation for a future date. We believe that the speaker has a valuable topic, and we work with each presenter to get them to share their knowledge.

Third, if UNCCN has enough lead-time, we reach out to the oncology community to find another speaker who can present on that date. This way, the oncology community, or general public can still benefit from these presentations.

Fourth, the technology does permit us the possibility of pre-recording the presenter’s lecture and then broadcasting it on the appointed day and time. Before pursuing this option, UNCCN would first need to discuss the matter with all of our certifying agencies.”

What kinds of challenges do you deal with when preparing for a lecture?

“The primary challenges are lining up a great roster of presenters, working through the certification processes, making certain that the site coordinators have everything that they need, and ascertaining that the technology is working the way that it should. Occasionally UNCCN runs into a glitch, but we try to have several backup procedures in place to ensure that everything appears to run smoothly to everyone else.”

What do you like most about preparing for a lecture?

“First and foremost, working with all of the marvelous people associated with the lecture. This includes my co-workers, the presenters, the site coordinators, and all of the presentation attendees. After that, it would be getting all of the various pieces of software and hardware to work together.”

How do you see the way lectures are conducted/changing in the next 5 or 10 years?

“That will depend on how the technology evolves. For example, we have been using several video software platforms in order to carry off these lectures. Unfortunately, each of these platforms is very specialized and each one performs a very different function, so we must use all of them for each lecture. However, we’re currently testing a video software platform called Zoom that will enable us to replace these other video software platforms. Zoom handles all of the most important functions—at least for UNCCN—of the other platforms with the same or greater level of quality, thereby simplifying how we deliver these lectures. Any future changes will depend upon the innovation provided by the software and hardware industries.”

Is continuing education credit offered by certifying agencies? If so, what kind (s)?

“For UNCCN’s RN and Allied Health lectures, we offer continuing education ANCC credit through UNC’s School of Nursing and ASRT credit through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. With the Medical and Surgical Oncology lectures we also offer CME credit through UNC’s School of Medicine. With some of our Special Event lectures, we have offered other continuing education credit, such as ADA CERP credit through UNC’s School of Dentistry.”

What happens when a lecture is over?  Are there additional steps you have to take?

“Most of the work is done as soon as the presenter says “Thank you” at the end of the presentation. At this point, it’s mainly a matter of editing the video so that it is ready for posting in UNCCN’s Lecture Video Library and on UNCCN’s YouTube channel ( as well as sorting through the information provided by attendees. We take the feedback that attendees provide seriously, so we collate that data and share it—where appropriate—with the presenter and the certifying agencies. Because of that feedback, we can pinpoint what presenters and topics we should approach for future lectures as well as locating potential issues that need to be addressed.”

Where can someone find additional information about the lectures?

“UNCCN’s website ( is probably the best place to learn more about the lectures that we offer, particularly upcoming presentations. We are currently working to put more of our lectures into UNCCN’s Lecture Video Library and on UNCCN’s YouTube channel (, so those are also good places to learn more about UNCCN’s lectures.