What Are CME Credits?

Posted by BeaconLive

Here’s What You Need to Know About Continuing Medical Education Credits And How To Earn Them 

Medical students aren’t the only ones who devote their days to learning. If you’re a practicing physician, nurse, or healthcare professional, you know the importance of continuing your education after graduation.  


That’s because your profession is constantly evolving with new treatment techniques and updates to the healthcare field. To stay up to date, you must earn CME credits.


Continuing medical education credits, or CME credits, are required by most states to retain a medical license. So they are essential for any healthcare worker looking for initial certification or to renew their license. 


However, some may need help finding time for CME activities in their busy schedules. Fortunately, many CME solutions are available to make earning those credit hours a breeze. 


Let’s look closer at the different types of CME credits, the benefits of participating in continuing medical education, and where you can find the best CME opportunities. 


A doctor uses a computer to attend a CME course


What Are The Different Types Of CME Credits? 

Continuing medical education allows participants to engage in educational activities designed to help develop, maintain, and improve their knowledge in their specific practice area. 


Each state has unique requirements, such as the amount of CME credits and particular topics, which medical professionals must meet to secure licensure. 


But not all CME credits are created equal. There are different types of CME credits. Not all licensing boards accept all types of credits, so you must do your research ahead of time to ensure you are choosing suitable educational activities. 


Let’s take a closer look at the different types of CME credits. 


AMA PRA Category 1

The most common type of CME for physicians is American Medical Association (AMA) Category 1 credits. 


To earn this credit, you must find and complete educational activities accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME. This means they have approved the activity and vouch that the content within the course is valid. 


You must participate in various sponsored events and complete all components of the learning activities. 


There are a variety of topics to choose from, including: 

  • Infectious diseases

  • Pain management 

  • Emergency medicine 

  • Osteopathic manipulation

  • Bariatric complications

  • Trauma updates for triage

  • Future of Healthcare 

  • Public health issues


The topics you choose will depend on your practice area and specialty board requirements, so pediatric physicians need different CME courses than family physicians. 


You can confirm that you’ll receive this type of credit by referring to the materials supplied by the CME provider. They’ll also let you know the maximum amount of credits you can receive from that CME event


If you’re unsure whether or not the CME course you’re taking will help you meet your CME requirements, you can check with ACCME. 


AMA PR Category 2

These credits are awarded for any activities not certified under category 1. Healthcare professionals must manually claim and self-document any educational activities they complete. 


These activities cannot be promotional and must be fully in compliance with the honest opinions of the American Medical Association or AMA. 


AMA PR Category 2 credits are different from category one because they cannot be promoted on a public forum. These educational activities include: 

  • Unstructured online searching

  • Self-assessment activities 

  • Participation in quality assurance and peer review

  • Reading medical literature from an authoritative source 

  • Writing for a medical journal 


These activities must be a valuable learning experience that directly relates to their practice, as determined by the physicians themselves.


Physicians must document the description, location, and number of credits they want to claim. To earn a single CME credit, they will need to log 60 minutes of participation time, rounded to the closest quarter-hour. 


AAFP Prescribed 

Explicitly designed for physicians, these credits relate to patient care, medical practice management, and how professionals deliver that care. 


AAFP-prescribed credits also touch upon nonclinical subjects, such as:

  • Life support courses 

  • Point-of-care learning

  • Health professionals learners ed

  • Scholarly seminars

  • Activities produced or sponsored by AAFP


You can also find elective credits within this category, but you must ensure your state licensing board will accept these activities for CME credit. For instance, CME experiences or activities that aren’t documentable and courses designed without physician input will count as AAFP elective credits. 


It’s important to note that some professionals must also complete maintenance of certification or MOC credits if they seek recertification. 


But how do you earn CME credits? Let’s examine how you can earn credits and meet your certification requirements. 


How Do You Earn CME Credits? 

With each state medical board upholding different CME requirements, finding suitable educational activities to fulfill your CME credit needs can be challenging. 


Fortunately, more and more CME providers are turning to online learning platforms to connect with physicians and deliver top-notch continuing medical education opportunities.  


Here are some ways you can earn CME credits online to meet your state’s continuing education requirements. 

  • Webinars: Continuing education webinars allow CME providers to reach a larger audience and provide attendees the flexibility to earn valuable CME credits from anywhere. If you can’t make the live event, many providers will record the webinar and make it available on demand. 

  • eLearning courses: CME courses can be completed online through a learning management system. They can be completely asynchronous, meaning you learn online at your own pace, or involve some in-person elements to allow for hands-on learning. 

  • Virtual lectures: Often implemented as webcasts, virtual lectures are led by an expert in the field. There is usually time built in for a Q&A session, which allows participants to ask clarifying questions. 

  • Online conferences: These virtual events can occur in one day or over multiple days. The hosting organization will offer various sessions and invite participants to choose which ones they would like to attend. 


While you can earn many CME credits online, some certifications, such as CPR, contain a component you must complete in person. Pay close attention to the requirements of your state medical board to ensure you choose the right CME courses for your needs. 


Choose a CME provider that offers an automatic CME tracker. This tool will help participants keep tabs on how many credits they’ve completed in what areas so they know which CME courses to sign up for next. 


BeaconLive Can Help You Earn The CME Credits You Need 

Healthcare professionals are always looking for CME programs with the right learning activities that will help them earn their CME certification credits. And with busy schedules, completing CME online makes it easier than ever to meet their goals. 


BeaconLive’s CME eLearning platform offers access to accredited continuing education courses for medical professionals. They offer an abundance of audience engagement features and administrative task automation functions that take CME courses to the next level. 


Additionally, BeaconLive offers 24/7 tech support for both providers and participants. This means you’ll always be just a few clicks away from solving issues during your course. 

Contact BeaconLive for more information on how you can earn your CME credits online and meet your state’s regulatory requirements.


Topics: Certificates, Continuing Education, Continuing Medical Education (CME), Medical & Healthcare, Psychology & Mental Health

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Are CEUs and contact hours the same thing?

No. The difference between CEUs and contact hours is how they are calculated. One contact hour equals one contact hour, while a CEU equals ten hours of instructional time.

How do I build and develop a CME course?

Choose the right eLearning platform to build and develop a great CME course.

How do I calculate CME credits?

CME credits are calculated on an hour-for-hour basis. Every one clock hour equals 1 CME credit.