HealthMay 18, 2023

What is continuing medical education and why do I need it?

CME. Shorthand for Continuing Medical Education, these three letters can unlock a world of insights, education, and opportunities for healthcare and medicine professionals. But as it relates to their growth, development, and advancement, CME can mean so much more.

Defining CME

Just what is CME, exactly? CME is an abbreviation of the term Continuing Medical Education, also known as Continuing Education (CE) or continuing professional development (CPD) to nurses and other HC professionals. But what does Continuing Medical Education comprise?

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), CME consists of “educational activities which serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession.”

The educational content within a CME activity must represent the body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted within the profession, such as:

Why is CME so important?

CME is the lifeblood of health care and medical professionals in their continuing professional development (CPD) journey. It feeds their curiosity, broadens and updates their knowledge, hones their skills, inspires their confidence, and most importantly, benefits patients and the public’s health.

It’s also a requirement for health care professionals looking to maintain their licenses and certifications as they continue to advance in their careers.

What is accredited CME?

Not everything promoted as CME is accredited CME (sometimes referred to as “certified” CME). Only organizations that meet AMA and ACCME (Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education) standards and requirements can offer activities that are accredited CME. Adherence to these standards by these organizations, known as accredited CME providers, ensures that the CME activities are independent (i.e. free of commercial influence) and “accelerate learning, change, and improvement in healthcare.” Only accredited organizations can designate CME activities for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Within the United States, the AMA only authorizes organizations that are accredited by the ACCME (or by a state medical society recognized by the ACCME), referred to as accredited CME providers, to designate and award AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to physicians. With the exception of those activities directly certified by the AMA, individual education activities must be offered only by accredited CME providers, in accordance with AMA PRA credit system requirements, to be certified for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.

What can physicians expect from accredited CME?

Physicians rely on accredited CME as one of the support systems that helps them drive improvements in processes and optimize the care, health, and wellness of patients. Physicians can also count on accredited CME to provide a protected space for them to learn and teach without commercial influence.

Accredited CME addresses every medical specialty, covering the full range of topics important to healthcare improvement. Whether physicians work in clinical care, research, healthcare administration, executive leadership, or other areas of medicine, accredited CME is designed to be relevant to their needs, practice-based, and effective.

Only those educational activities designated as accredited CME provide the types of credit (AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™) accepted by state medical boards and other organizations that help physicians maintain their licensure, certifications, credentialing membership in professional societies, and other professional privileges.

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