Most states do require physicians to continue their medical education. As anyone in a medical field knows, doctors already have a full load with patients and paperwork. Fitting in time for more education can be difficult. For this reason, many organizations are now offering Online CME choices for doctors.
According to a recent survey of physicians carried out by the physician jobs site NetDoc.com, 37% of physicians do all of their continuing medical education online, and only 13% do less than half their credits online.
Available choices for online CME
While choices may have been limited at one time, today physicians can choose from a wide variety of online courses which can be completed at their convenience. Courses are offered through the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and many other reputable organizations.
Unlike other continuing medical education selections, online CME is not offered in specific locations on pre-ordained schedules. After a doctor signs up for the course, he or she can begin completing the materials almost immediately.
Expectations for online continuing medical education courses
CME courses online are not that different from more traditional physician CME options. They are developed and presented by qualified physicians and must meet strict accreditation rules.
The courses usually involve two elements. The first is the teaching portion. The instructor will present material either through videos viewable online or through text-based information. When the doctor has finished with the materials, he or she must then complete a series of self-assessment questions. To receive credit for the online CME, the doctor must answer all of the provided questions correctly.
Online CME: Concerns
While online CME options may be beneficial for doctors, others have concerns about them. One concern is that many of the sites offering online CME and some of the continuing medical education courses themselves are sponsored by industries, particular the pharmaceutical industry. If they are funding or creating the materials, then could they also be influencing the education of the physicians? That’s the question some critics want answered. There are strict requirements for online CME courses, including requirements that forbid explicit marketing – brand names cannot be used. Nonetheless, courses are often developed to highlight the therapeutic benefits of specific classes of drugs produced by the sponsoring company.