Continuing medical education (CME) provides physicians with life-lasting learning and accreditation — long after they have graduated from med school. These courses, conferences, seminars and webinars attracted nearly a million people in 2013 and continue to generate educational value. But how do physicians decide on the best courses? Here are seven relevant factors.
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1. Choose Whether You Want to Study Online or In Person
You can sign up to a CME course online — where you can study for a program at your own pace — or at an approved learning institution in your area. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) has a list of CME providers on their website, and there are nearly 2,000 to choose from.
2. Check the Credentials of Learning Providers
Check the credentials of a course provider before you sign up for a program. Then review their assessment tasks, instructional methods and learning outcomes. This information should be provided on the provider's website. If not, contact them for more details.
3. Speak to Alumni
Speaking to students who have previously studied for a CME program at a particular institution provides deeper insights than any college prospectus. Ask alumni for specific feedback on learning processes and teaching methods. SERMO, a social network made up of over 600,000 verified physicians, is a great place to start. Here you can find recommendations for the best CME courses.
4. Look for Courses That Offer Job Growth Potential
Discover which skill sets are highly sought after in the medical field and choose a course that provides you with the most potential for job growth. Currently, family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry are among the most-recruited physician specialties. The American College of Physicians, which was founded in 1915, has a range of resources about disciplines you can specialize in and information about CME programs.
5. Consider the Cost of CME
CME fees range from $20 to $50 per credit hour, with average courses requiring 15 to 50 credit hours, according to American Medical News. Funding might be available for some programs, though this depends on eligibility. Choose a course that suits your budget and provides you with a good value for your money.
6. Arrange a Meeting With the Course Provider
Contact a CME provider to find out more about the program you are interested in. If you want to attend a course in person, make arrangements to visit their campus, where you can tour classrooms and meet tutors. If you are thinking about signing up for a CME course online, contact the provider by phone and ask them questions about entry requirements, course content, incentives and accreditation.
7. Find Out About CME Activities
The activities required for CME accreditation depend on the learning provider. However, they might include seminars, tutorials and web-based assessments. Performance Improvement Continuing Medical Education (PI CME) involves evidence-based and quality improvement processes that help physicians enhance their performance in a medical environment.
Continuing education might be a job requirement. Alternatively, you might enroll in a course to develop new knowledge or improve your career prospects. Regardless of the reason, CME courses continue to attract physicians who want to improve patient outcomes and reduce health care costs. The seven tips on this list will help you find a course that best suits you.