CME: Unravelling the Mystery


This is a new column in which Kerri Murawski, CME Coordinator of the Carlat CME Institute, writes about her hard-won knowledge of the sometimes mysterious world of continuing medical education. Please join Kerri on her journey. We welcome comments, questions, stories, and other sharing.

Can Doctors Earn CME Credit By Teaching Courses?

Oct 14th, 2011 | By

After requests by one of our jointly sponsored organizations to issue CME credits to their physician faculty members, and not knowing if I was permitted to do so, I began researching the topic.

I began my research on the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s “Ask” section, “Credit” subsection, of their website. It seemed to be the proper place to begin as I had questions regarding credits. I was told to visit http://www.ama-assn.org/go/cme and found “Other Ways to Earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit,” which led me to Recognizing physician’s participation in educational activities – What physicians should know about the AMA PRA credit system. I found that accredited CME providers (the Carlat CME Institute is ACCME-accredited) can, indeed, award credit to physician faculty for original presentations at their live activities. You may wonder if doctors can also get credit for writing CME articles—but oddly enough, they cannot. However, they can claim this as “category2 CME”. I also learned that doctors who teach mock board courses are not eligible for category 1 CME. ACCME’s rationale seems to be that you have to prepare and present original material to get CME, and that watching students interviewing patients does not qualify.

At any rate, the news is good for faculty who do qualify to earn CME—because they can actually earn two credits per one hour of teaching (but they cannot “double-dip” by claiming credit as both a presenter and a learner.)

Our partner was pleased to hear that we can now issue physician faculty CMEs – I began receiving many requests from faculty for these CMEs. But now we had to come up with a way to streamline these requests and maintain all of this new data according to ACCME’s policies. Accordingly, we helped our partner to create an online evaluation survey that includes all the data needed by ACCME.

But then we encountered another issue. Our partner had the data in their database, but we needed to retrieve that data for our own records. But how should we maintain the new data to be in compliance with ACCME’s regulations? I went back to ACCME’s website http://education.accme.org/faq126 and found a section called “Learning from Teaching” which told me what I needed to know. The bottom line is that I had to package the data in a certain way and submit it electronically to the all-powerful ACCME database known as “PARS” (Program and Activity Reporting System).

But I still wasn’t done. I’ve discovered that ACCME is fond of papers and binders. Therefore, I had to create a binder to contain the faculty’s requests for CME, copies of their CVs, and the names, dates, and locations of the courses they actually taught. This is basically the “proof” that ACCME may want to look at when they do our reaccreditation.

In conclusion, it took some time and research, but I found that we are allowed to issue physician faculty CME credit, and I figured out how to gather and store this information to make ACCME happy. Success!

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