Continuing Medical Education – CME Standards of Excellence

Meeting planners have played a pivotal role in the evolution of continuing medical education. In the early years it was simply a matter of finding a venue with hotel rooms and conference space to accommodate a weekend seminar on the proper use of the x-ray. Now, more than 1,800 accredited CME providers annually offer close to 159,000 educational activities and execute more than 1 million hours of instruction interactions with 27 million healthcare professionals (Source: ACCME Data Report: Growth and Evolution in Continuing Medical Education).

More than any other, the medical profession has emphasized the continuing education of its practitioners. Along with medical equipment manufacturers, drug companies, hospitals, and universities medicine has developed a sophisticated and high-quality system of continuing education and continues to raise standards to this day.


The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the American Medical Association are collaborating to simplify and align their expectations for accredited CME activities certified for AMAPRA Category 1 credit.

The ACCME states its mission as follows:

“The identification, development, and promotion of standards for quality continuing medical education utilized by physicians in their maintenance of competence and incorporation of new knowledge to improve quality medical care for patients and their communities.”

The ACCME fulfills its mission through a voluntary self-regulated system for accrediting CME providers and a peer-review process responsive to changes in medical education and the healthcare delivery system.

“Our goal is to encourage and reward accredited CME providers for implementing best practices in pedagogy, engagement, evaluation, and change management, and for focusing on generating meaningful outcomes.”


This collaboration between the AMA and the ACCME has recently published a new menu of criteria for Accreditation with Commendation for CME providers who meet the following criteria.

The CME Provider:

1. Promotes Team-based Education
A. Engages students of health professions
B. Engages patients/public
C. Engages Inter-professional teams.
2. Addresses Public Health Priorities
A. Incorporates health/practice data
B. Addresses population health
C. Collaborates effectively

3. Enhances Skills
A. Optimizes learners’ communication skills
B. Optimizes learners’ technical/procedural skills
C. Creates individualized learning plans
D. Utilizes support strategies

4. Demonstrates Educational Leadership
A. Engages in research/scholarship
B. Supports CPD for CME team
C. Demonstrates creativity/innovation

5. Achieves Outcomes
A. Improves patient/community health
B. Improves healthcare quality


CME providers tell us that this apparently benign list is a tall order to fill, but they welcome the challenge. Everyone involved in continuing medical education demands, and imposes on themselves, the highest standards of excellence. As new technologies and curriculum evolve in CME a collaboration of ACCME and certifying boards is needed to facilitate the integration of CME and Maintenance of Certification (MOC), enabling CME providers to use one unified system to register CME activities that count for MOC. That unified system is now emerging and providers are eagerly embracing it.

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