Aligned standards may lead to innovation in CME

Revised credit system standards that took effect in late September aim to encourage innovation and flexibility in continuing medical education (CME) activities. The alignment and simplification of the standards was the result of a collaborative effort between the AMA and Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), via a Bridge Committee formed by both organizations. 

“Recognizing the need to better align the AMA and ACCME’s requirements for CME accreditation and reaccreditation, we believe that our newly adopted proposal will support the evolution of CME to better meet the needs of educators, physicians and the patients they serve,” said AMA Vice President for Medical Education Outcomes Susan E. Skochelak, MD. “We look forward to continuing our work with ACCME on a more streamlined system that benefits providers and patients alike.”

The revised requirements for activities to be certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ came following calls for comment, issued by the AMA Council on Medical Education and the ACCME. The outreach efforts to a group of stakeholders—which included physicians, CME providers, ACCME member organizations, state medical societies and state medical licensing boards—came down in favor of aligning and simplifying core and format-specific requirements. After considering the input from the CME community, the council approved the revised requirements.

Offering more opportunity

As part of the alignment, the AMA has reduced its learning format requirements with the aim of giving more flexibility to accredited CME providers. Providers now have freedom to create new approaches that drive learning and change—granted that those approaches fall within the revised core and credit requirements. Also simplifying matters: CME providers that are accredited by the ACCME will now be considered compliant with AMA’s core requirements for PRA Category 1 Credit™.

For physicians, the revised requirements also include the option to earn CME credit in an “Other” learning format, which can be applied to activities that do not fall under one of the AMA’s established learning formats. The requirement revisions are designed to help give physicians greater access to additional educational offerings that are appropriate to their practices and the patients they serve.

“There’s really an attitude that says we want to give you credit for [all] the ways in which learning occurs,” Dr. Skochelak said. “We might not always think of those things. That’s why we put the ‘other’ category there so you can work with your CME provider to determine how to get you credit.”

For CME providers, if a learning opportunity meets all the AMA PRA core requirements and the applicable ACCME requirements, it can be certified using the “Other” format.

Updated resources

The AMA and ACCME both have resources related to the alignment and the organizations are in frequent communication to make sure their staffs are answering provider questions the same way.

An updated PRA booklet, with a revised “Requirements for educational activities eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™” section, was released in late September. The text includes the AMA core requirements, format-specific requirements, requirements for designating and awarding credit, and instructions about the credit designation statement.

To further assist in understanding the simplification and alignment, the AMA and ACCME produced a number of informational offerings. Those include a shared glossary of terms and definitions to help clarify terminology for accredited CME providers and learners—in response to requests from CME providers—as well as a document answering frequently asked questions  about the revised requirements.

“For almost 50 years, the AMA has had the honor of having created the standards for making sure that CME is something that brings value to the activities that the physicians do to improve their learning and their ability to care for patients and communities,” Dr. Skochelak said.

“Our role continues to be working across the larger physician community to make that the AMA PRA Category 1 Credit system brings value and consistency and helps physicians know that when they attend a meeting, do an activity or participate in a learning event, they are going to have a level of quality for that event that will make it worth their while.”

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