There are many different ways advanced healthcare providers can earn continuing medical education credits to maintain, develop and improve their knowledge, skills and performance in the field. A variety of CME types provides engaging educational opportunities for all kinds of learners. Each is engaging in its own way. To receive a range of educational benefits, practitioners can use their CME allowance on more than one type of activity to meet their CME requirements.
After using this guide to decide which types of CME activities best suit your needs, consider how to choose the right provider of CME credits.
Types of CME Activities
Regularly Scheduled Series
Regularly scheduled series (RSS) include department-based educational activities or sessions that occur on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. The healthcare provider’s staff plans and presents them. Some examples of regularly scheduled series include grand rounds, tumor boards, and morbidity and mortality conferences. A journal club can also qualify as an accredited RSS.
In order to deliver the highest degree of educational benefit, an RSS typically targets the same audience over the life of the series. Those planning an RSS can structure sessions to build on one another. Practitioners earn credit by attending all the sessions in the series, although credit is calculated based on the total number of credits earned for each individual session. In a hypothetical example, a tumor board may meet five times per year, with each practitioner earning two credits per meeting. However, practitioners will have only earned any of the 10 total credits by attending all five sessions.
Live CME is a group activity taking place in real time, offering learners the opportunity to interact with other healthcare professionals and faculty. The live event is scheduled by a CME company and may take place in person or remotely. Live CME may take place in the form of a conference or webinar.
- Live conferences: These in-person activities include annual meetings, conferences (including travel conferences) and seminars. The number of credits earned with a live event is based on a number of factors, however, longer live events do not necessarily award additional credits. According to the ACCME, credit is awarded in 15-minute increments, with 0.25 credits earned each quarter hour. Individual live activities are typically worth 1 credit per hour, with a maximum of 20 AMA PRA Category 1 credits awarded per live event.
- Live webinars: These activities are held online and begin (and end) at a specified date and time. To classify as a live webinar activity, faculty must be available to engage participants, either in-person or remotely. Participants can only earn credit with these activities when they attend live.
Enduring materials are independent, self-study learning materials that allow healthcare providers to complete CME credits conveniently, on their own time. Enduring materials may include printed, digital or streaming media. Enduring materials can be derived from live CME activities. In this situation, the ACCME considers the provider to have created two separate activities. Both must comply with separate ACCME requirements for each type of credit.
For instance, a recording of a previous live conference can become an online CME activity. The activity must therefore meet ACCME requirements for both live activities and enduring materials. Journal-based activities can also serve as both live events and enduring materials based on whether they have a group or individual component.
To qualify as enduring materials an activity must
- Indicate what media is used.
- Estimate how long the activity should take.
- Have a means of recording and verifying participation.
- Provide an assessment of what was learned.
- Indicate the minimum requirements needed to earn credit.
Performance Improvement Activities
Performance improvement, or professional enrichment, activities allow medical providers to claim credit for partaking in other medical education experiences and activities. Professional enrichment activities include independent exam preparation and informal self-learning activities, such as a clinical professional club.
These activities are designed to help providers improve targeted aspects of their practice through a three-stage, evidence-based program. Individuals or groups of medical professionals first assess their current practice using identified performance measures. In the next stage, they learn about new specific performance measures and apply them over an interval of time. In the last stage, participants re-evaluate and reflect on their performance in the second stage, comparing it to their assessment in the first stage.
Speaker credit, or “learning from teaching,” gives advanced healthcare professionals the opportunity to earn CME credit for speaker preparation. The credit is to recognize the learning occurring when the provider prepares to teach, not for presenting the information. Speakers can only claim credit once for a single accredited activity.
Speaker credit is tabulated differently than other activities. For instance, the AMA uses a 2:1 learning-from-teaching ratio when determining how much a speaker’s credit is worth. If a speaker presents at a live conference for one hour, they will have earned two AMA PRA Category 1 credits.