What Does CME Mean?

Posted by BeaconLive

Learn Everything You Need To Know About How To Deliver And Earn Continuing Medical Education Credits

Health professionals don’t stop learning once they graduate. They are committed to honing their skills and providing the best care possible to their patients. 


This means they are always looking for CME courses to learn new techniques and ensure they are current on the latest developments in their practice area. 


They also need to earn CME credits because many states in the U.S. require professionals to obtain a certain amount to maintain licensure. 


So what is CME, how is it used, and how do medical professionals access these courses? Let’s find out. 


A doctor holding a smartphone


What Does CME Stand For?

CME is an abbreviation for continuing medical education. It consists of educational activities, typically delivered through CME events, to help health professionals, like doctors, nurses, and healthcare administrators, increase, develop, and maintain their knowledge and skills. 


The definition of CME can vary depending on the use case. Still, all continuing medical education requires physicians to complete different modules related to clinical medicine, medical science, and public healthcare. 


Although CME is a requirement for many healthcare professionals, why is it so important? Let’s find out. 


What Is The Purpose Of Continuing Medical Education? 

Physicians spend years in medical school and residency, while nurses devote a similar amount of time to their studies. 


However, the learning doesn’t stop once they earn their diploma. Healthcare workers must continue learning to remain current on the latest practices and receive refresher training that keeps their skills sharp. 


The purpose of CME is to allow healthcare professionals to earn the CME credits they need for medical licensing and recertification. 


Since each state requires healthcare workers to obtain a certain amount of CME credit during each licensure period, these requirements often mandate that participants take specific courses to maintain licensure. 


This helps them use the most up-to-date best practices to treat their patients and improve their professional performance.


Without high-quality CME, healthcare workers may miss significant developments in their specialty area that can impact patient care. This leads to gaps in care that can prove detrimental to the people who depend on them the most. 


But nurses and physicians aren’t the only ones who need CME. Let’s look at some professionals on the hunt for continuing medical education courses to earn valuable recertification credits. 


Who Can Attend CME?

Continuing medical education is necessary for any job that requires certification or licensure to practice in the medical field. These professionals include: 

  • Doctors 

  • Family physicians

  • Nurses

  • Physician’s assistants 

  • Allied health professionals 

  • Psychiatrists and psychologists  

  • Healthcare administrators 

  • Patient care technicians 


Each professional will be required to complete a different number of credits, depending on whether they are working on initial licensure or maintenance of certification. 


These requirements will vary depending on the state where the physicians practice and the licensing board they report to. 


What Is A CME Credit?

A CME credit equals one hour spent in a continuing education course. So if you participate in a four-hour course, you will earn four CME credits. 


CME credits are separate from CEUs and contact hours required for nursing professionals. These hours are calculated differently and have additional requirements than CME. 


There are a few different types of CME credits: 

  • AAFP-prescribed credits: These credits are designed for physicians. The activity must be within the scope of family medicine to be applied to CME requirements. 

  • AMA PRA Category 1: Known as the most common type of CME credits, they require participation in CME activities accredited by the Accreditation Council For Continuing Medical Education or ACCME. 

  • AMA PRA Category 2: This type of credit is awarded for CME activities that do not count under the requirements of category 1. They cannot be advertised outside of an organization. Physicians must self-document and claim these credits. 


If you are maintaining licensure, you may also be required to complete maintenance of certification or MOC points. 


Attendees must submit proof of attendance to their regulatory agency to show they spend the appropriate amount of time furthering their medical education. 


Who Can Offer Continuing Medical Education Courses?

While anyone can build and deliver a great CME course, only certain institutions can offer accredited CME credits. They include: 

  • Accredited schools of medicine 

  • National physician organizations 

  • National medical specialty societies 

  • Organizations approved by the American Medical Association, or AMA


Employers and healthcare organizations often host their own CME sessions geared toward the specific needs of their staff members. However, these classes may not apply to comprehensive certification if they aren’t accredited. 


Suppose you’re interested in designing a CME course. In that case, you can get your CME accredited by a regulatory board to attract the largest audience and offer the highest quality continuing medical education materials. 


Continuing medical education sessions can grow your audience, build your network, and share your expertise with others in your field. So it’s a great way to build your brand and establish a new income stream. 


What Are The Benefits Of Continuing Medical Education?

Professionals in any industry can benefit from access to professional development throughout their careers. 


However, it’s even more critical for healthcare professionals to continually update their knowledge and skills to stay current with the fast-paced developments in the medical field. 


Aside from meeting licensing requirements, there are many benefits to participating in CME courses: 

  • Improve patient care: The medical field is constantly changing, bringing new updates, findings, and innovations that impact how you care for patients. CME allows you to stay current on these discoveries to offer a higher level of care for your patients. 

  • Tackle real-world challenges: CME courses will enable you to connect with other healthcare professionals to discuss your challenges. This allows for collaboration between physicians and can result in solutions that will help you better serve your patients and community. 

  • Enhance management skills: Patient care isn’t all physicians have to worry about. They must know how to manage a healthcare team, understand the financial relationships between treatment teams and insurance, and effectively manage their offices.

  • Further your career: CME is essential for healthcare professionals looking to advance their medical careers. It demonstrates that you’re interested in professional development and looking to improve your practice area. This shows others that you’re ready to take on more challenging roles and move further down your career path. 


Every clinician must offer their patients the best, most informed care. And CME providers must make their activities engaging and relevant to ensure they attract the right audience. 


Let’s look at the different types of continuing medical education content you can expect to find as you search for the CME activities you need. 


What Are The Different Types Of CME Topics?

Continuing medical education is about more than just sitting in a lecture hall or listening to a presentation. It’s about expanding your knowledge base and updating your skills to reflect the most recent developments in the medical field. 


CME providers offer a variety of topics geared towards attracting physicians and healthcare professionals from all specialties. Here are some common topics covered by CME activities: 

  • Hospital medicine 

  • Diagnostic medicine 

  • Infectious diseases 

  • Public health

  • Point-of-care testing

  • Hospital administration 

  • Oncology 

  • Medical ethics 

  • Substance abuse 

  • Screening and prevention 


Physicians must choose their CME activities depending on what state licensing boards require from their physicians. Remember that you must take a variety of courses and cannot earn too many credits in one specific area. 


For instance, some states require substance abuse in the workplace, while others must complete CME on child abuse. 


Once you’ve identified the right topic for your CME, you’ll need to choose the delivery method. Let’s look at the different ways you can earn CME credits. 


How Do I Earn CME Credits? 

You can earn CME credits by participating in approved CME activities. These vary depending on what’s available in your area. 


Typically, you’ll earn a CME credit for every hour you spend in an approved CME activity. These credits are rounded up to the nearest quarter hour. 


However, some states require the hours to accurately reflect your time in the activity, so they will not count any breaks offered during the event. Most CME activities take this into account and plan accordingly. Ensure you know how many credits you will earn from the event so you know what to expect. 


Remember, the number of credits you need and which topics you must focus on depends on your state licensing board’s requirements and your specialization. You must consult with your state’s board to ensure you earn the correct number of credits and touch on the correct topics. 


In the past, CME seekers were limited to in-person activities to earn credits. But now, there are a wealth of opportunities on a multitude of platforms, making earning CME credits easier than ever before. 


You can acquire credits in a variety of ways, including

  • In-person classes: These courses take place in a classroom setting. Sometimes they are offered on campus at a hospital, during a conference, or in a designated CME delivery classroom.  

  • Webinars and webcasts: These popular CME courses allow participants to attend virtually. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can access these CME credits through a mobile device, live or on-demand. 

  • Seminars: This CME activity is more of a discussion than a course. It involves small groups of healthcare professionals coming together to discuss pressing issues and discover solutions that participants can use on a widespread scale. 

  • Lectures: These presentations are given by experts in the practice area. They can take place online or in person. Usually, lectures end in a Q&A session that allows participants to ask valuable questions and receive answers from the speaker. 

  • Hands-on workshops: Some CME activities require participants to get hands-on experience to truly learn the skill. Hands-on workshops allow healthcare professionals to practice specific skills they will likely use on the job. 

  • Hybrid conferences: Hybrid events have multiple components. Some occur in person, while others happen online. These are ideal for complex topics that require hands-on experience but can be broken into smaller activities, making them more accessible to busy healthcare professionals. 


There are specific limits on how many CME credits you can earn from one specific activity. For instance, you can only earn 60 credits from teaching every three years. 


Many physicians and healthcare professionals choose to earn CME credits online because it allows them to fit these requirements into their busy schedules. 


How Do I Track My CME Credits? 

Most physicians are required to earn CME credits over one to three years. This means you’ll have to keep track of the credits you earn for an extended period of time. 


So it’s important that the continuing medical education learning platform that you use offers automated tracking and certificated delivery to make keeping tabs on your CME activities easier. 


As participants earn CME credits, they are often awarded certificates to keep track of what types of CME activities they have completed and how many hours they have logged. 


Some providers offer access to a CME tracker with a user-friendly dashboard. This allows participants to track their CME activities and know what they need to do to stay compliant. 


They often label each activity and keep count of the earned credits in each category. So you can look at your dashboard and see how far you have to go to earn your credits. 


Opt for a platform that offers a CME tracker, so you don’t have to work overtime to ensure you have all the credits you need for your next recertification. 


Where Do You Find CME Opportunities?

Whether you’re looking for in-person meetings or virtual CME opportunities, many companies offer high-quality continuing medical education courses. 


However, finding these CME activities can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to look. Here are some places you can check to see if there are any continuing medical education opportunities happening online or in your area. 

  • Social media: If you follow local healthcare organizations on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, they may advertise CME opportunities happening soon. Some even host virtual events you can join from the comfort of your home. 

  • Professional organizations: Belonging to an organization for medical professionals has many perks. One of them is access to high-quality, affordable CME opportunities. So if you belong to an organization like the American College of Physicians or 

  • Your employer: Hospitals, clinics, and healthcare networks offer CME to their workers, often for free. Check with your HR department to see if there are any professional development opportunities planned. 

  • Search engines: Sometimes, a simple search can help you find the best CME activities for you, especially upcoming conferences or webinars happening soon. 


You can also look for CME learning platforms that offer courses you can take at your own pace. This is ideal for healthcare professionals who are short on time, as well as CME providers looking for a lucrative way to offer their courses. 


Let’s consider what qualities you need to look for as you choose a CME platform. 


What To Look For In A CME Learning Platform 

eLearning allows healthcare providers to access continuing medical education opportunities in their spare time. It also helps CME providers streamline their administrative tasks and expand their reach. 


If you’re interested in offering virtual CME opportunities, you will need a learning management system that provides top-tier features to engage your audience and optimize your course. 


Here are some essential elements you need to look for when choosing the right CME learning platform for your courses. 

  • Scalable live event capabilities

  • User-friendly dashboard 

  • Intuitive interface 

  • Custom branding

  • eCommerce capabilities

  • Virtual customer engagement

  •  On-demand media 

  • Online catalogs 

  • Automated certificate generation and delivery 


The online platform you choose to deliver your CME activities can make or break the success of your course. If your platform lacks engagement and usability, your participants will grow frustrated and look elsewhere for their credits. 


So make sure the platform you choose has everything you need to build, manage, and deliver high-quality CME opportunities for your target audience. 


BeaconLive Has Everything You Need To Design And Implement CME

Physicians and nurses dedicate their lives to the well-being of their patients. They will stop at nothing to further their medical knowledge to deliver top-notch care. 


From webinars to content libraries, BeaconLive has your back when it comes to continuing medical education. 


BeaconLive’s CME platform can elevate your online learning programs with streamlined management tools, automated administrative tasks, and engaging features that captivate your audience. 


Our team of experts can not only help you design and implement your course, but they can help you work with the right accreditation boards to get your CME fully accredited. This will attract more participants and boost your brand’s credibility. 

Contact us today for more information on how our LMS can help you with all your CME needs.


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

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Do psychiatrists need CME?

Yes, each state requires psychiatrists to earn CME to remain licensed.

What are some common types of medical webinars?

Product demonstration, continuing education, and patient education are popular types of webinars in the medical field. 

How long does it take to become a doctor?

You’ll need four years of medical school plus three to seven years of residency to become a doctor in the United States.