In the United States, thousands of physicians attend continuing medical education programs. These programs are often sponsored and customized to fulfill educational requirements in health care and delivery clinical practice, at an age of cutting edge new technologies and growing health demands.
According to Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), “Continuing medical education 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 content of CME is that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine, and the provision of healthcare to the public.
A broad definition of continuing medical education, such as the one found above, recognizes that all continuing educational activities which assist physicians in carrying out their professional responsibilities more effectively and efficiently are CME. A course in management would be appropriate continuing medical education for physicians responsible for managing a health care facility; a course in educational methodology would be appropriate CME for physicians teaching in a medical school; a course in practice management would be appropriate CME for practitioners interested in providing better service to patients.
Not all continuing educational activities which physicians may engage in however are CME. Physicians may participate in worthwhile continuing educational activities which are not related directly to their professional work and these activities are not CME. Continuing educational activities which respond to a physician’s non-professional educational need or interest, such as personal financial planning, or appreciation of literature or music, are not CME.
Reasonable state-to-state uniformity in accreditation of continuing medical education providers is necessary for several reasons. First, uniformity in accreditation can help assure physicians that CME presented by any accredited provider is education of good quality. Second, uniformity in accreditation enables physicians to use the credit earned by participating in a CME activity sponsored by an accredited provider for relicensure in states where applicable and for membership in local, state and/or national medical societies. Finally, uniformity in accreditation enhances credibility with state legislatures, CME providers and the public.”
Continuing Medical Education Activities
Continuing medical education programs are aimed at increasing professional development and clinical proficiency among physicians. These offerings include remote site teleconferences (RSTs), Clinical Refreshers, Seminars and Conferences, Affiliate Hospital Programs, Enduring Materials (online print, audio, and video rebroadcasts), community based presentations and Clinical Workshops.