CME Info Center

CME Definition

In order for the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Commission on CME to consider an educational activity for Category 1 sponsorship, the activity must meet the following definition of CME as well as adhere to educational and ethical guidelines.

The definition has been excerpted from the American Medical Association’s "Physician’s Recognition Award Information Booklet for Accredited Providers and Physicians – 2006 Revision:"

Definition of Continuing Medical Education (CME)

CME consists of educational activities that serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession. CME represents that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine, and the provision of health care to the public.

Education content

CME providers must ensure that the content of the educational activities they designate for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is scientifically based, accurate, current, and objectively presented. Educational needs — as identified by expert opinion, prior study, or an analysis of evaluations or examinations from earlier activities — should guide activities and the development of learning objectives. Group needs can be determined from practice profiles, peer reviews, self-assessments, or case audits. New medical knowledge, responsibly presented, can serve as a basis for sponsoring a program.

Providers may certify nonclinical subjects (e.g., office management or physician-patient communication) for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, so long as these are prepared specifically for a physician audience. In addition, CME programs may describe or explain alternative health care practices, provided they also discuss the existing level of scientific evidence that supports the practices. However, education that advocates specific alternative therapies or teaches how to perform such procedures, without evidence or general acceptance in the profession that supports their efficacy and safety, cannot be designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Ethical considerations for providers of CME

The AMA expects CME providers to present physicians with commercially unbiased and objective information in all of their activities. Accredited providers must also meet all ACCME disclosure requirements and Standards for Commercial Support.

Industry should fund CME activities only through educational grants. The AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) defines industry as "all proprietary health-related entities that might create a conflict of interest." Industry-supported activities, like all CME activities, must serve primarily to educate physicians. Promotional materials should feature a program’s educational content, with advertising for unrelated amenities playing a secondary role. Both physician and non-physician CME faculty should ensure the scientific accuracy of their presentations, and avoid influence by either industry or financial contributors. They must communicate any potential conflict of interest to providers and physician participants. Appendix B includes the text of the relevant CEJA ethical opinions, Gifts to Physicians from Industry (8.061), and Ethical Issues in CME (9.011).

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