The end of another year is a time of reflection and planning for the future. For U.S. health practitioners, it also means meeting the continuing medical education (CME) credit deadline and ensuring your license renewal.
These credits, regulated by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), can be earned through a variety of activities, including classes, webinars and conferences. Your CME requirements will vary by state, specialization and activities. Before starting on CME hours, verify that the credits will be recognized by your board so you can meet CME deadlines without worry. Read on to learn about some categories of CME credits and how to plan your schedule.
AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
The most common type of credit for U.S. physicians is the American Medical Association (AMA) PRA Category 1 Credit™. To earn these credits, physicians must participate in activities accredited by ACCME or an ACCME-recognized state medical society. These credits can be verified through an accompanying AMA credit designation statement from the provider, which should include a statement like this one:
“The [name of accredited CME provider] designates this [learning format] for a maximum of [X number] AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.”
AMA PRA Category 2 Credits
Such designation statements are not required to complete activities for AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™, and organizations may not advertise an activity as meeting such requirements or being eligible for credit. Instead, this credit is self-claimed and self-documented by physicians.
When you document Category 2 credits, include an activity title or description, the subject or content area, date(s) of participation and number of credits claimed. Physicians are independently responsible for AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ record-keeping. Keep in mind that you can’t claim Category 2 credit for an activity already earning Category 1 credit.
AAFP Prescribed Credits
AAFP Prescribed credits are primarily for physicians. Content generally relates to patient care, patient care delivery or certain nonclinical topics. Examples include CME activities approved by the Commission on Continuing Professional Development, most life-support courses, American Family Physician and FPM journal quizzes, scholarly activities and certain point-of-care learning.
Activities designated as AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ or those approved by the American Osteopathic Association can be acceptable as AAFP Elective credit, even if those activities aren’t individually approved by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
With any of these credit activities, make sure your state board will accept them.
Beating the Credit Crunch
CME credits are essential to providing quality care, but you might be wondering, “How do I meet the CME deadline with so many other priorities?” Fortunately, there are a number of ways to incorporate CME into your day-to-day routine. There are also a variety of options for tracking CME credit, including online platforms.
Here are four approaches to earning CME credits.
- Enduring materials: This type of CME covers lasting activities, such as a recorded webinar, podcast or printed material. If you’re short on time, you can register and watch as many webinars as you need to on demand.
- Journal reading: A common example of this activity is reading an article from a peer-reviewed journal. If you’re a quick reader, this might be a great option for you!
- Manuscript reviewing: Physicians can earn CME credit through critical reviews of assigned journal manuscripts, provided those journals are approved by editors and indexed by Medline.
- Live events: These activities include conferences and workshops and can be attended virtually or in person. When attending the right conference, you can earn a large portion of your credits by attending the right sessions.
You have a growing number of resources and methods available as you aim to hit the annual CME credit deadline. As you proceed, make sure credits meet your state and specialty’s requirements. Check out these resources to learn more about earning CME credit online.