What Should Clinicians Consider When Choosing CME Courses?

Author: Christine Zink, MD

To maintain practice standards and increase medical knowledge, all clinicians must fulfill certain continuing medical education (CME) requirements. How do clinicians decide which CME courses suit their needs best, and why do they choose specific programs over others? This article will briefly highlight the six key factors to consider when choosing a CME educational activity.

1. Cost

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a particular CME program is the cost. No matter their degree, age, or experience, all clinicians must fulfill annual CME requirements. It is time-consuming and can be expensive.

  • Clinicians should check with their employers to see if funding is available for education requirements. If funding is available, use it all before the end of the year.
  • Consider participating in online education. Online education is typically offered in short, individualized segments, and often the shorter programs are free. Now, even some longer educational programs are offered in a virtual format and are also available at no cost.
  • Find a specific organization that offers a range of free or low-cost courses.

2. Value for Time

Along the same lines as finding low-cost CME options, it is crucial to find a company that offers a wide range of activities that fit with your schedule and provide flexibility for education on the go. A clinicians’ time is limited, so efficient, cost-effective education is vital. The best way to obtain value for your time is through CME podcasts. This type of education can be completed during a short break, driving, or even exercising.

  1. 3. Credentials

Clinicians need to obtain CME credits through a company that meets overseeing accreditation standards set by organizations like the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). Not all medical education is equal. State and national licensing agencies require that medical education fulfills specific standards set by an accrediting body. The ACCME and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) ensure that CME education meets patient and public needs, is based on valid ideas, and does not have commercial influence. You can find an accredited program online on the ACCME website.

  1. 4. Expert Knowledge

While it is important for continuing medical education to advance clinician skills and knowledge, it is even more rewarding to learn the latest medical advances from experts in the field. Clinicians should seek educational programs that teach the most recent evidence and provide them first-hand knowledge from those who actively practice. It is also essential to find an organization that offers expertise in general and specialty practices.

  1. 5. Range of Subjects Including State Licensure Programs

Clinicians should also aim to find an educational organization that meets all of their clinical needs. Primary care clinicians and general practitioners need education on a wide range of subjects. It is convenient to have one place that meets all educational requirements and offers a vast range of educational material like behavioral health, dermatology, emergency medicine, geriatrics, and pediatrics. It is also crucial that the organization offer programs that fulfill state licensure needs. For example, online programs on ethics and controlled substance prescribing habits help clinicians meet requirements.

  1. 6. Experience

Finally, it is important to find an experienced professional organization that has been offering CME programs for an extended time. CME requirements are nuanced, and established organizations demonstrate that clinicians trust them in providing excellent medical education. Additionally, experienced organizations often have a wide variety of educational programs and have built a reputation for mastery in medicine.

Pri-Med has been a leader in CME for more than 25 years, and develops new ways for clinicians to meet their CME requirements and access educational material through in-person CME conferences and online education.