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Profile: Jim Hartfield

By FRED W. WRIGHT Jr.

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 30, 2001


NEW POSITION: Director of education, Continuing Education Inc., St. Petersburg.

PREVIOUS POSITION: Medical director for quality management, Cigna HealthCare of Florida, Tampa.

Combining continuing education for professionals with a weeklong cruise will become a full-time occupation for Jim Hartfield starting Wednesday.

Hartfield said his principal role will be to develop educational programs aboard Holland America cruise ships for professionals needing continuing education hours to maintain their license or certification. But it's not all fun and sun, he said.

"We have some fairly rigid criteria that are applied to these (programs) so we don't turn these into being a vacation," Hartfield said. Instead, the programs offered by Continuing Education Inc. give professional people "an opportunity to gain a good educational experience as well as enjoying a family type of vacation."

The programs are offered primarily during seven-day cruises. Guest speakers provide lectures and instruction.

"The problem that many professionals are finding now is having the time to go away and have either a vacation or an education, and funds for all of that," Hartfield said. "So combining the two, making a good experience for both the family as well as education for the professional, maximizes the value of the cruise ships."

CEI is the only organization "that is accredited and that is exclusively designing programs aboard cruise ships," Hartfield said.

The continuing education programs do not compete with shipboard agendas, he said. "Our education time is generally spent while we're at sea, going from place to place, from port to port," he said.

Typically, the continuing education program consists of 12 to 16 hours of instruction during a seven-day cruise. Programs on land, particularly in Europe, may take 12 days to include that many hours because of a "more fragmented schedule."

Approximately 40 to 50 cruises with Holland America are offered each year for professionals, including those in the fields of medicine, law, accounting, dentistry, nursing, and veterinary and chiropractic services. Each hour of study equals one credit toward continuing education. Typically, the CEI program costs $250 to $400 in addition to the cost of the cruise, Hartfield said. An estimated 35 to 50 participants take part during a typical weeklong learning cruise.

Currently, Hartfield is dividing his time between working part time with Continuing Education and part time as he prepares to leave his role as medical director for quality management for Cigna HealthCare of Florida.

Hartfield obtained his medical degree from Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston in 1961. Upon graduation, he worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and specialized in pediatrics until 1964. He was in private pediatric practice in Rochester until 1985.

In 1986, Hartfield went to work for Cigna as a medical director in Bloomfield, Conn., then moved to Florida in 1988 as associate vice president for clinical affairs at the University of South Florida's Health Sciences Center from 1988 to 1998.

"I basically retired in 1998," Hartfield said, but soon found himself with Cigna again.

While at USF, he was associate dean for continuing medical education with the College of Medicine, "which fostered my getting involved with CEI," he said.

Hartfield is in his sixth year as director of education for the Florida Medical Association and was a charter member of the College of Physician Education in Tampa and that organization's 10th president in 1985.

"I've always been interested in education," Hartfield said. "Back in my days in Rochester, I was a member of the public school board. I've been very much involved in education all along.

"I still believe continuing education for professionals is the only way they can maintain currency in their field. I believe it needs to be done appropriately and in a way that makes it meet the need of the professionals."

Hartfield said he tries to attend as many CEI programs, at sea and on land, as he can, including recent visits to Norway, Alaska and the Caribbean.

Hartfield, 65, lives in Largo. He has four sons and six grandchildren.

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