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CME Courses

If you're a practicing physician interested in professional development, you can earn credits through a formal Continuing Medical Education program. Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs are designed to help physicians stay up-to-date with advances in medicine, the latest technologies used within their specialty, and understand the important changes or policies related to their profession. The American Medical Association is just one of several organizations that offers CME courses and programs, and many course modules can be completed online.

Types of Continuing Medical Education Courses

CME resource providers offers several types of courses related to physician care and treatment protocol, immunization, pain management treatments and even depression. Some of the most common course topics include:

  • Depression

  • Health Literacy

  • Immunization

  • Organized Medicine

  • National Disaster Preparedness

  • Medication Safety

  • Diabetes

  • Parkinson's Disease

  • Pain Management

  • Impairment and Disability Rating

  • Primary Care

  • Public Health

  • Physician-Patient Relationship

  • Pharmacogenomics

Each topic can have up to six or more specialized courses or modules that the physician must complete successfully.

Who Needs to Take Continuing Medical Education Courses?

Continuing education programs in the medical field can help improve career prospects and maintain certain types of licenses. Completing a program may be beneficial to:

  • Physicians

  • Pharmacists

  • Nurse Practitioners

  • Physicians Assistants

  • Case Managers

  • Dieticians

  • Nurses

  • Employers of Healthcare Organizations

State Requirements for Continuing Medical Education Licensure

Every state imposes its own mandates on CME content, and requires between 12 hours to 50 hours of continuing medical education courses for license registration. Most states require that CME hours are fulfilled within a two-year timeframe, and in some cases, an existing certificate may be accepted as an equivalent. If a medical professional fails to complete their requirements within the appropriate time frame, they will not be permitted to practice in their state.

State mandated content may include category 1-A or 1-B topics as specified by the American Medical Association, or specific courses such as pain management, geriatric medicine, HIV/AIDS, or patient safety. These requirements vary from state to state, so it's important for the medical professional to understand the full scope of licensure requirements before they enroll in offline or online CME courses.

Taking Online CME Courses

Online courses allow physicians to complete coursework at their own pace and participate in webcasts and online tutorials to advance their knowledge. In most cases, all on-site activities and courses related to the program are offered in the online format, making it easy for physicians to complete their required coursework while working full-time or juggling a busy schedule.

In addition to the continuing medical education program offered by the American Medical Association, physicians can turn to several other accredited CME resource providers online. Online courses available from an accredited organization may offer the following:

  • Daily or weekly webcasts

  • Online slideshows

  • One-hour video courses

  • Discussion forums for ongoing participation

  • Online videos or video clips

  • Live instructor-student conferences

After completing all course modules, the physician can complete a self-assessment and then must pass a test or examination in order to receive certification.

Online CME Courses: Accreditation

All offline and online courses must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). This organization serves as the body of accrediting institutions and organizations who offer continuing medical education, and develops the criteria for evaluation of educational programs and activities to ensure that all standards are met.

Options for Continuing Medical Education

Some medical schools at colleges and universities offer continuing education programs offline and online, but there are also a number of private organizations that offer courses. Institutions and organizations that offer continuing medical education programs include:

  • Harvard Medical School

  • CMEWeb.com

  • University of Vermont - College of Medicine

  • University of Minnesota

  • PRIME, Inc.

  • University of Washington

  • University of Pennsylvania

  • University of Colorado

  • UC Davis

  • Creighton University

  • Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education

Studying for CME Exams

While many courses will prepare students for the final examination, some students can turn to a number of other CME resources for help in passing tests and acquiring the specialized knowledge. Free CME courses are available for several specialties online, and these allow candidates to study and learn key concepts at no extra cost. Free courses allow the student to review the latest clinical advances, treatment options and technologies from expert faculty members, and those that are conducted online give students a chance to watch interactive slideshow presentations, download tutorials and videos, and enhance their study experience overall.

Taking sample tests and examinations and monitoring progress can help any candidate improve their test-taking skills and increase the chances of passing the exam the first time.

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CME Courses