CME Credits: AMA PRA Category 1 vs. AMA PRA Category 2 vs. AAFP Prescribed

Posted by Sophia Duplin
CME Credits: AMA PRA Category 1 vs. AMA PRA Category 2 vs. AAFP Prescribed

Ongoing CME For Physicians

Continuing medical education (CME) is required for healthcare professionals like MDs, DOs, Family Physicians, PAs, NPs and more. For individual healthcare professionals, engaging in CME, whether through AMA PRA Category 1 Credits, Category 2 Credits, or AAFP Prescribed Credits, ensures they stay current with the latest advancements in medicine, enhance their knowledge and skills, and maintain licensure. 


This commitment to ongoing learning benefits medical organizations by fostering a culture of excellence and high standards in patient care.  And ultimately patients are the primary beneficiaries, as they receive care from healthcare professionals who are updated on the latest treatments and technologies, ensuring safe, effective, and informed medical interventions.


AMA PRA Cat 1 vs. AMA PRA Cat 2 vs. AAFP Prescribed Credits

Let’s explore the differences between AMA PRA Category 1 Credits, AMA PRA Category 2 Credits, and AAFP Prescribed Credits. 


It's important for Continuing Medical Education providers to understand these distinctions to pursue necessary accreditations relevant to their organization and educational offerings.  


Understanding the difference between these forms of CME can be difficult. Here is a quick table that outlines the main differences between each form of CME to help you understand the best option for your unique needs. 


Credit Type

AMA PRA Category 1

AMA PRA Category 2

AAFP Prescribed


Accredited by ACCME, AMA, or state medical society

Self-claimed and self-documented by physicians

Accredited by AAFP Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD)


Live activities, enduring materials, journal CME, test writing, manuscript review, PI learning, PoC learning

Teaching, unstructured online learning, reading literature, peer consultation, group discussions, self-assessment, medical writing, preceptorships, research

AAFP-approved activities, instruction of learners, life support courses, AAFP journal quizzes, CFPC Mainpro activities


Maintain certification, licensure, membership requirements

Demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning for AMA Physician's Recognition Award

Meet CME requirements for AAFP membership and family medicine certification/licensure


Widely accepted by licensing boards, specialty boards, professional organizations

Accepted for AMA Physician's Recognition Award

Equivalent to AMA PRA Category 1, accepted by many organizations

Credit Calculation

1 credit per 1 hour of participation

1 credit per 1 hour of participation, in 0.25 credit increments

Varies based on activity format



AMA PRA Category 1 Credits

Category 1 Credits are the more commonly accepted form of CME credits for MDs, DOs, Family Physicians, PAs, NPs and are often required for maintaining certification and staying up-to-date with CME requirements. They are earned through participation in activities like live webinars, in-person events, and enduring materials and are based on a 1:1 ratio of the time spent on the activity.


AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ are a widely recognized form of CME credits earned by physicians to maintain their professional competence and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their respective fields. 


These credits are awarded for participating in educational activities that are specifically designed for a designated medical specialty, such as neurology, family medicine, or cardiology.


Physicians can earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ through various educational formats, including:

  • Live lectures and conferences: Live activities include national, regional, or local conferences, workshops, seminars, and webinars. These events provide an interactive environment where physicians can engage directly with content experts and peers.

  • Enduring courses and webinars: Enduring materials are educational resources like recorded audio, video, or online modules that can be accessed at the learner's convenience. This format is ideal for physicians who prefer self-paced learning or who may not be able to attend live events due to time or geographical constraints.

  • Question banks and self-assessment CME activities: Journal-based CME involves learning activities tied to medical journals. Physicians can earn credits by reading designated articles and completing associated quizzes or reflective exercises.

  • Test item writing: Contributing to the creation of test items for medical exams is another way to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. This activity involves developing questions for board certification exams or other assessments.

  • Review journal manuscripts: Physicians can earn credits by reviewing manuscripts for medical journals. This process enhances their critical analysis skills, keeps them abreast of the latest research, and contributes to the quality of published scientific literature.

  • Performance improvement learning activities: Performance Improvement learning involves physicians in activities that assess and improve their clinical practice. It typically includes three phases: identifying areas for improvement, implementing strategies, and re-evaluating practice.


These educational activities are typically developed and delivered by organizations or institutions that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) or a state medical society (SMS). If you are looking for assistance in getting ACCME accredited, you can reach out to us at BeaconLive, as we offer accreditation services along with our CME delivery platform. 


AMA PRA Category 2 Credits

Category 2 Credits are awarded for activities not certified for Category 1 Credits. These activities are typically self-directed and may include unstructured online learning, consultation with peers and medical experts, group discussions, self-assessment activities, medical writing, preceptorships, research, and participating in live activities not designated for Category 1 Credits.


To earn AMA PRA Category 2 Credits, physicians must participate in activities that comply with the AMA definition of CME, adhere to relevant AMA ethical opinions, and be non-promotional.

  • Teaching residents, medical students, or other health professionals: Physicians can earn AMA PRA Category 2 Credits by teaching residents, medical students, or other health professionals. This can be done through live activities, workshops, or online courses.

  • Unstructured online searching and learning: Engaging in unstructured online learning, such as reading medical literature or conducting research, can be claimed as AMA PRA Category 2 Credits. This type of learning is not considered Internet Point of Care (PoC) learning and can be self-directed.

  • Consultation with peers and medical experts: Physicians can earn credits by engaging in consultations with peers and medical experts. This can include discussing cases, sharing knowledge, and seeking advice from colleagues.

  • Group discussions: Participating in group discussions, such as case conferences or peer review sessions, can be claimed as AMA PRA Category 2 Credits. These activities promote collaborative learning and professional development.

  • Self-assessment activities: Engaging in self-assessment activities, such as taking quizzes or completing reflective exercises, can be claimed as AMA PRA Category 2 Credits. These activities help physicians evaluate their knowledge and skills in their field.


To claim AMA PRA Category 2 Credits, physicians must document the activity title or description, subject or content area, date(s) of participation, and number of credits claimed. Credits are awarded based on participation time, with 60 minutes of participation equal to one (1) AMA PRA Category 2 Credit and credit claimed in 15-minute or 0.25-credit increments.


Physicians may claim one (1) AMA PRA Category 2 Credit for each 60-minute hour engaged in the learning activity, and they may claim credit in 15-minute or 0.25 credit increments, rounding to the nearest quarter hour. 


It is essential for physicians to recognize that AMA PRA Category 2 Credits are not certified by accredited CME providers, and they should be cautious when selecting CME activities to ensure they are legitimate and eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. 


AAFP Prescribed Credits

AAFP Prescribed credit is a type of CME credit designated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for activities designed primarily for family physicians. These credits are directly related to patient care, patient care delivery, or certain non-clinical topics relevant to the specialty of family medicine.


To qualify for AAFP Prescribed credit, an activity must meet specific criteria. A family physician who is an AAFP active or life member must be directly involved in the planning of the activity to ensure the content is relevant to family medicine.


This involvement ensures that the educational content aligns with the unique needs and perspectives of family physicians, who often serve as the primary care providers for patients across various age groups and medical conditions.


To qualify for AAFP Prescribed credit, the activity must be primarily designed for physicians and have an AAFP active or life member directly involved in the planning process. Here are a few ways physicians can earn AAFP Prescribed credits: 

  • Completing COCPD-approved CME activities: The COCPD reviews and approves CME activities to ensure they meet the criteria for AAFP Prescribed credit. These can include live courses, enduring materials, internet activities, journal CME, and more. The COCPD approval process verifies the content is relevant to family medicine.

  • Instructing health professions learners: Teaching medical students, residents, or other health professions learners in formal individual instruction or live group instruction settings can qualify for AAFP Prescribed credit. This includes activities like preceptorships, lectures, morning reports, etc.

  • Participating in most life support courses: Many life support training courses like Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) are pre-approved for AAFP Prescribed credit.

  • Completing journal quizzes: The AAFP offers CME quizzes based on articles from their American Family Physician and FPM (Family Practice Management) journals. Passing these quizzes can earn physicians AAFP Prescribed credits.

  • AAFP content & activities: Educational activities developed and produced by the AAFP national organization, such as their live courses, enduring materials, or online activities, are automatically approved for AAFP Prescribed credit.


Additionally, some other activities like point-of-care learning, scholarly pursuits, and Canadian CFPC Mainpro activities may qualify with proper documentation. Having an AAFP member physician involved in planning is key for any activity to be eligible for AAFP Prescribed credit.


To maintain their AAFP membership, active and supporting (FP), AAFP members must submit at least 150 credits every three calendar years, with at least 75 being AAFP Prescribed credits. This requirement ensures that family physicians engage in ongoing education specifically tailored to their specialty, promoting continuous learning and professional development.


In summary, AAFP Prescribed credit is a specialized form of CME credit designed to meet the unique educational needs of family physicians. By involving family physicians in the planning process and focusing on content directly relevant to their practice, AAFP Prescribed credit activities provide valuable learning opportunities that contribute to the delivery of high-quality patient care in the field of family medicine.


Find The Right CME Credits For Your Needs

Are you interested in bringing your accreditation process to the next level? Join countless organizations who trust BeaconLive’s CME LMS platform and CME accreditation services for quality, convenience, and comprehensive continuing medical education solutions. Don't miss out—explore now!


Topics: Accreditation, Continuing Medical Education (CME), Medical & Healthcare

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What distinguishes AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™?

AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ requires formal planning, accredited sponsorship, and rigorous standards, while AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ encompasses self-directed learning activities that don't require pre-approval but still contribute to professional development.

How do AMA PRA Category 1 and AMA PRA Category 2 credits differ in terms of documentation?

AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ require documentation from accredited providers, including certificates and activity details, whereas AMA PRA Category 2 Credits™ rely on physicians' personal records of participation in non-accredited, self-directed learning activities.

What sets AAFP Prescribed Credit apart from AMA PRA Category 1 and 2 Credits?

AAFP Prescribed Credit is specifically approved by the American Academy of Family Physicians, emphasizing content relevance to family medicine. In contrast, AMA PRA Category 1 and 2 Credits cater broadly to all medical specialties.