Answers to FAQs on Pennsylvania's Opioids Continuing Education Requirements

Last Updated: Apr 6, 2020

pills_opioids_prescription-articlePennsylvania dispensers or prescribers applying for an initial license and those applying for re-licensure are required to complete opioids continuing education.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) often hears from members who are wondering how to complete the opioids education requirement. Here are answers to frequently asked questions.

Q. What are the education requirements that physicians must complete?
A. These are the specific requirements for initial applicants and for those seeking re-licensure:

  • Initial applicants—They must submit, no later than 12 months after obtaining an initial license or certification, documentation acceptable to the licensing board of the completion of at least two hours of education in pain management or identification of addiction and at least two hours of education in the practices of prescribing of opioids. The education may occur as part of the individual's professional degree educational program or continuing education program.
  • Physicians seeking re-licensure—They must complete at least two hours of continuing education in pain management, identification of addiction, or the practices of prescribing of opioids. These two hours count as part of the 100-hours required for continuing education, not in addition to the 100-hour requirement. To clarify, these hours must be completed during the 2017-2018 licensure period as part of the re-licensure process for 2019-2020, and each licensure period thereafter.
  • Prescribers who do not have their own DEA registration number—For physicians seeking re-licensure, the two-hour CME requirement does not apply to a prescriber who 1) is exempt from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) requirements for registration under its applicable laws and regulations, as well as any state law; and 2) does not use the registration of another person or entity as permitted by law to prescribe controlled substances in any manner. The exemption applies unless a physician has a DEA registration number or prescribes under another individual or entity’s DEA registration number.  

Q. Do the continuing education requirements apply just for physicians or does it also apply to other clinicians as well?
A. The requirements apply to all prescribers and dispensers of controlled substances.

Q. Does the opioids continuing education need to be Category 1 or Category 2?
A. PAMED has received confirmation from the Pennsylvania Department of State that both the State Board of Medicine and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine will accept continuing education courses in either Category 1 or Category 2 for the purpose of compliance with the requirements of Act 124 as long as the content meets the Board-required subject matter noted above.

Q.  Are there specific courses that will meet the required hours?
A. You can choose your own opioids education courses provided you meet the number of required hours and the approved content requirements.

Q. How will the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania verify my compliance with the opioid education requirement?
A. PAMED was advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) that the current process is that, if audited, licensees will have to produce documentation verifying the courses they've completed, and the title of the course(s) on the documentation should be clear that the content addressed Board-required subject matter.

The Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) is currently developing a continuing education tracking system which, when completed, will allow licensees to track their own continuing education requirements. PAMED will advise members when that tracking system is available.

Q. Will PAMED's opioids CME programs help meet these opioids education requirements?
A. Yes, the below opioids education program offered by PAMED can help you meet the requirements:

  • Addressing PA's Opioid Crisis: What the Health Care Team Needs to Know—Includes sessions on prescribing, dispensing, identifying addiction and referral to treatment, and pain management. Take the CME

Additional Resources

To access PAMED's CME and education resources, visit


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  1. WESLEY ROSARIO | Nov 05, 2020

    I am a teleradiologist who will provide diagnostic imaging services to PA hospitals and clinics remotely from Massachusetts. I will have absolutely no direct patient contact and will never prescribe controlled substances. Do I still need to comply with the opioid training mandate?


    Wesley Rosario-Medina, M.D.

  2. Missing user | May 08, 2020

    Hi Dr. Czarnecki,

    We're sorry to hear you had difficulty with the opioids CME course. Our Knowledge Center reached out to you via email yesterday to let you know that our records indicate you were successful in completing the Prescribing Opioids course. 

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out at 855-726-3348 or

    Thank you!

  3. Nancy Czarnecki | May 03, 2020
    I am having a difficult time getting back to my CME course which I just began on Opiod prescribing. 

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