Physicians: Keeping Current When It Comes To CME
August 09, 2016
The Q1 2016 Provider Advisor is focused squarely on the onboarding process and how providers are affected by it. This post excerpts a discussion with Oakstone’s Physician Advisory Board about Physician CME requirements.
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What are the requirements surrounding Continuing Medical Education (CME)?
Continuing medical education (CME) in the U.S. is regulated by both state medical boards and specialty boards. All states require CME for license registration, and most states require CME for license renewal. On average, physicians are required to complete 30 hours of CME annually; however, this number varies widely by state. For example, 11 states require 50 hours of CME annually while Wisconsin requires only 15. Some states also mandate CME content in areas such as HIV/AIDS, risk management, pain medication, or end-of-life and palliative care (AMA, 2013). State licensure requirements are not specialty-specific but are the minimum requirements physicians must meet in order to practice medicine.
In addition to meeting state licensure requirements, most physicians go a step further to seek and maintain Board Certification in their respective primary specialties. Board Certification for these physicians is granted by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Member Boards, which represent 24 medical specialties. The ABMS not only sets standards for Initial Certification, but also employs a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that includes a structured approach for enhancing patient care and improving patient outcomes through focused assessment and improvement activities. The ABMS Program for MOC, updated in 2015, involves ongoing measurement of six core competencies defined by ABMS and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME):
- Practice-based Learning and Improvement
- Patient Care and Procedural Skills
- Systems-based Practice
- Medical Knowledge
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills
While these elements are consistent across all Member Boards, what may vary, according to the specialty, are the specific activities the Member Boards use to measure these competencies. Despite some variation in the activities, they are all built upon evidence-based guidelines, national clinical and quality standards, and specialty best practices.
Why is Accredited CME Important?
Not all CME is accredited. Accredited CME is developed based on a learner-centered, continuous improvement model of CME. Whether physicians work in clinical care, research, administration, executive leadership, or other areas of medicine, accredited CME supports their commitment to lifelong learning and practice improvement, and helps them meet requirements for licensure, certification, and credentialing. For CME activities to be accredited, they must meet rigorous standards set by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). ACCME is a national model, assuring physicians and other health care professionals that CME is designed to be relevant, effective, and independent. Furthermore, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) credit system confers the Physician’s Recognition Award (AMA PRA) for participating in these activities. Physicians and other healthcare professionals can use accredited CME to meet requirements for licensure, certification, credentialing, membership in professional societies, and other professional privileges.
What Can We Learn from Oakstone’s Physician Advisory Board?
Oakstone™, a division of Ebix|A.D.A.M. , and a leading provider of accredited CME that is devoid of commercial content, is newly partnered with HealthStream to bring industry-leading medical education to physicians and allied health care professionals through HealthStream’s CECenter. With nearly 40 years of experience, Oakstone has provided CME to approximately one in ten U.S. doctors over the past six years. For this article, HealthStream asked Oakstone’s Physician Advisory Board to comment on a variety of topics related to the latest trends in CME. Following are some of their observations.
Despite considerable time commitments, physicians still are not as current in their specialty as they desire to be.
The Board thinks most physicians are spending at least 4 – 8 hours per month on CME in order to meet licensure and certification requirements. This time is largely devoted to reading journals, taking online courses, and attending conferences or meetings. Despite this considerable commitment of time and expense, the Board believes most physicians are unable to stay current in their specialty of practice. As one board member commented, “In my opinion, most physicians are not current in their field of practice. The greatest challenge is fitting in CME with active clinical practice.”
Other topics addressed include:
- Physician employers could build time for CME into the organization’s workflow.
- The Board believes physicians seek CME that covers a variety of topics.
- Physicians value both convenience and camaraderie.
- Employers play an important role in supporting CME.
- How do physicians perceive the most recent changes in CME requirements?
- Comments on several changes in CME anticipated over the next 2-3 years.
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