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The Role of Professional Medical Organizations in CME

Professional medical associations like the AMA work in conjunction with continuing medical education organizations and providers to serve medical professionals and the public at large. These groups work to promote high standards of professional and ethical conduct, represent their members in matters of public interest, and generally aim to be resources for their stakeholders.

For medical professionals required to complete CME annually, these organizations are a part of a network of providers responsible for providing access to high-quality, relevant and accredited CME and professional continuing education (CE). It is important for medical professionals to know what organizations they can look to for trusted information on CME including compliance requirements, course content and accreditation criteria.

The following list includes both professional associations and important CME organizations, who combine to form a network of accredited continuing medical education options.

American Medical Association

Founded in 1847, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) immediate goals were to promote the causes of medical science, ethics and education. Since then, they have created a number of initiatives in the name of these goals, including founding the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), establishing a system of shared common terminology in the medical field and engaging in national governmental policy-making.

These initiatives have contributed to the continued growth of the AMA as an important resource for physicians in meeting their continuing medical education requirements and professional development goals. The AMA has announced its collaboration with the nation’s preeminent continuing education association, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to publish the article, “Evolution of Continuing Medical Education: Promoting Innovation Through Regulatory Alignment” in JAMA.

Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit founded in 1981 to oversee standards ensuring that CME is effective, accessible and up-to-date. They are a primary organization responsible for creating a transparent and trusted system of accreditation around CME.

Their goal is to improve clinician performance while enhancing patient care by ensuring a wide variety of independent and high-quality continuing education options are available in the marketplace.

During the height of the pandemic, the ACCME was responsible for helping ensure online educational options were available. The organization accelerated access to verified online learning options and accredited more online CME providers.

Their key strategic goals for 2022 through 2026 include working with regulatory bodies and professional societies to create a unified set of requirements for accredited CME activities like the AMA’s PRA Category 1 Credit system.

The ACCME doesn’t just serve physicians and providers of physician education materials but is an important part of keeping nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other clinicians prepared for a changing medical landscape.

The American Nursing Association

The American Nursing Association (ANA) is similar to the AMA in that it is an established medical association working to represent its 4 million members and nurses globally. Their goal is to advance the practice of nursing care by fostering higher ethical and clinical standards.

One initiative inspired by this goal is the ANA’s Enterprise Program. It oversees the deployment of ANA-certified nursing consultants to help healthcare organizations develop educational materials. The organization relies on this input to deliver CME organization-wide to solve its most pressing problems. The ANA has also partnered with American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to ensure alignment in institutional goals, regulations and content.

American Nurses Credentialing Center

Similar to the ACCME, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is the lead credentialing and accreditation body for those developing and publishing nursing CE, including CME. They promote CE which includes their NCPD program designed for healthcare organizations to meet a range of licensure requirements including professional development.

The ANCC also promotes the adoption of interprofessional continuing education by nursing staff, which deals with a set of educative criteria meant to prepare student nurses for live clinical settings. They also oversee registered nursing rotational programs and competency evaluations.

ANCC oversees both the accreditation of CE and CME providers but also accredits Approvers that are able to assign credit for individual activities as well as an appraisal program focused on the quality of the accreditation process.