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FAQ: State CME Licensure Requirements for MDs

By Pennsylvania Medical Society; Updated on Aug. 17, 2017

The following FAQ addresses MD (allopathic) requirements for licensure. For DO (osteopathic) requirements for licensure, click here.

What are the requirements for licensure?

The State Board of Medicine regulations state that to renew a medical license, a physician will need:

  • 100 total credit hours of CME in the two-year license cycle (with license cycles ending on Dec. 31 of each even year)
  • A minimum of 20 of the total credit hours in Category 1
  • 12 credit hours in the areas of patient safety or risk management (either Category 1 or Category 2)
  • 2 continuing education credits every two-year licensure cycle from a Department of Human Services' (DHS) approved course on the topic of mandated child abuse recognition and reporting for a license renewal OR three continuing education credits from a DHS approved course on the topic of mandated child abuse recognition and reporting for an initial license. This is a separate and distinct mandate outside of the CME requirements and is a condition of licensure. If the DHS approved course awards CME credits, however, those credits can also be applied toward the CME requirements.
  • A Pennsylvania bill signed into law on Nov. 2, 2016 — Act 124 of 2016 — requires dispensers or prescribers applying for an initial license and those applying for re-licensure to complete opioids continuing education. These are the specific requirements for the 2017-2018 licensure period:
    • 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.
    • Prescribers who do not have their own DEA registration number—Prescribers without a DEA number and who don't use the registration of another person or entity as permitted by law to prescribe controlled substances are exempt from this education requirement.

    Get additional details on this requirement—including how to access PAMED's opioids education—online here.


What is the difference between Category 1 and Category 2 credit hours?

Category 1 and Category 2 are defined by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Category 1 activities are those that have been approved by an accredited provider.

You will know an activity is Category 1 because all of the promotional materials will contain a statement similar to the following:

“This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The (sponsoring organization, such as the Pennsylvania Medical Society) is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.”

“The (sponsoring organization) designates this educational activity for a maximum of (number of credits) AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™.  Physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the educational activity.”

Your CME certificate will also state that the activity has been approved for Category 1 credit and name the institution or organization that is awarding the credit.

Category 2 credit hours consist of self-directed learning or courses that have not been through a formal approval process.

The following are some common examples of Category 2 activities:

  • Reading authoritative medical literature
  • Teaching medical students, residents or other health care professionals
  • Research projects
  • Consultations with peers and experts
  • Using non-designated enduring materials


How many credit hours need to be in patient safety or risk management?

Twelve (12) credit hours are needed in patient safety or risk management.


Do the patient safety or risk management credit hours need to be in Category 1 or Category 2?

According to the regulations, the patient safety or risk management credit hours can be in either Category 1 or Category 2.


If I have 12 Category 1 credit hours in patient safety or risk management topics, may I count these for both the Category 1 requirement and the patient safety/risk management requirement?

Yes. If any of the patient-safety credit hours that a physician has earned are Category 1 credit hours, they can be counted toward both the Category 1 requirement and the patient safety/risk management requirement.


How do I know if a CME activity is patient safety or risk management?

The following list of topics that will satisfy the patient safety/risk management requirement:

  • Improving medical records and record keeping
  • Reducing medical errors
  • Professional conduct and ethics
  • Improving communication among physicians and with other health care personnel
  • Communication between physicians and patients
  • Preventive medicine education
  • Health care quality improvement

As long as the CME activity falls within these topics, you can count it toward the patient safety/risk management requirement. The course does not have to state, and very likely may not, that it is a patient safety or risk management course.


Who will I need to report to in order to renew my license?

The State Board of Medicine is not requiring a report of CME at the time of license renewal. The license renewal form will contain an area for physicians to attest that they have completed the required hours.

By attesting that the requirement is completed, a physician may be subject to a random audit by the Board of Medicine. If audited, a physician will need to show evidence of the completion of the required credit hours. Failure to produce the requested evidence will result in a fine and possible suspension of license.

To view the complete state license renewal requirements, see the State Board of Medicine website.


How do I prove Category 2 credits if I am audited?

The regulations state that Category 2 credit hours must be documented in the form of a physician log or diary.


If you have additional questions, please call the CME Office at (800) 228-7823, ext. 2623.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017 9:33:54 AM

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