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7 of the Best CME Topics for Primary Care Providers for 2024

The responsibilities of primary care practitioners are changing. CME is an opportunity for primary care providers to build new skills and meet practice goals while remaining in state medical board compliance. The best CME for family physicians and primary care providers helps to meet a range of patient needs and supports practitioners facing complex challenges. The CME activities that will make the biggest difference to practitioners will feature the latest evidence based methodologies, meet rigorous accreditation criteria and balance an actionable practicum with current medical research.

Infectious Disease

The need for infectious disease training for physicians has expanded in recent years and this trend is expected to continue. The SARS-Cov-2 virus is just one infectious disease currently impacting global health. Dozens of other infectious diseases including Severe Acute Respiratory Stress Disorders (SARS), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and influenza are active globally and are regularly seen in primary care practices. Diseases such as Hepatitis C and Hepatitis A are also common.

Infectious disease CME can prepare physicians and specialists to identify, treat and prevent various communicable illnesses in inpatient and outpatient medical settings. Treat special populations such as the immune-suppressed or learn to communicate to patients the value of immunizations for community and personal health.

Mental Health

The ongoing mental health crisis throughout the US impacts millions. The health and financial stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic and the real impact of generational and racial trauma physicians are only recently beginning to understand, affect patients of all ages. Fortunately, evolving primary care models including direct primary and integrated care provide opportunities to treat more patients holistically. These changes require practitioners to add mental health care to their skills repertoire with CME and independent study.

Mental health CME topics can include information on the signs and symptoms of anxiety, inpatient and outpatient treatments for bipolar disorder and novel treatments for Major Depressive Disorder. Relevant training makes PCPs effective first line care providers for the mental health crises affecting the communities and populations they serve.

Sports Medicine

Primary care providers are acutely aware of the shortage of general practitioners. But few specialties have been hit harder than sports medicine. The predominant causes of the sports medicine shortage are an increase in sports medicine patients and insufficient replacement rate retirement of orthopedic doctors.

PCPs are filling the gap and are seeking advanced sports medicine CME with comprehensive education focused on the cases primary care practitioners are seeing. It is important that PCPs prepare for a range of patient cohorts including orthopedics, neurology and internal medicine in adults and children.

Preventative Medicine

Primary care physicians are among those most naturally positioned within healthcare to take up preventative medicine. Along with family medicine, internal medicine specialists, and even some OB-GYNs, preventative primary care makes sense to better serve patients and provide a legitimate medical basis for higher patient volumes. More patients is an important factor for incentivizing more PCPs to enter healthcare.

Preventive medicine encompasses a number of disciplines. Treatment is only a fraction of what these physicians do, as much of emerging preventive training focuses on the disciplines of family medicine, population health, biometrics and epidemiology.

Quality CME courses and conferences won’t simply highlight the latest treatments. They feature highly qualified proctors designing and delivering curricula that examine comprehensive care models based on the latest evidence-based data. Even those who don’t specifically specialize in preventive medicine will benefit from the focus placed on important CME topics such as lifestyle medicine, immunizations, diagnostic testing and health screenings, and behavioral medicine.

Emergency Medicine

As the definition of emergency medicine expands and, at the same time, emergency medicine departments nationwide contract due to budgetary strain, primary care, internal medicine and family medicine specialists face more emergency medicine and urgent care cases.

Primary care-focused emergency medicine CME content also supports the growing direct primary care market, which attracts emergency physicians seeking more flexibility and direct patient relationships. CME topics that represent the significant cross over between urgent, emergency and primary care include active substance abuse interventions, infectious disease treatment, psychiatric emergency care and geriatric care.

Pain Management

The health impact of the opioid epidemic and regulator attempts to control the problem have led to an explosion of interest in and need for responsible prescribing and general pain management.

Topics in the realm of pain management include the long term management of opiate use, treatment of opiate dependence, overdose treatment and alternative pain management treatments. Although somewhat controversial, pain management has also become an appropriate forum for the exploration of complementary medicine’s growing applications in healthcare. Oncology CME may be a place to look for evidenced based applications for complementary medicine.

Transgender Medicine

The needs of those who choose to affirm their gender with surgery will have unique long term care requirements that can be met through primary care and family medicine doctors. Primary care physicians are an obvious choice for those who are transitioning due their need for complex care. Long term care relationships can help PCPs provide critical medical services and emotional support to vulnerable LGBTQ+ populations. Transgender care includes a range of behavioral, endocrinological and family medicine care approaches.

While at this time transgender focused CME options are just becoming available, practitioners and providers can find CME that explores topics relevant to LGBTQ+ care. It’s particularly important that CME activities related to highly complex areas of care such as transgender care are evidence based because of the unique needs and pressures experienced by these populations.