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Continuing Medical Education

Continuing Medical Education

Find Out More About Continuing Medical Education

Continuing medical education, or CME, is a necessary part of any medical practitioner's career. Each of the 54 medical boards (50 states plus the District of Columbia and three territories) requires every medical practitioner to achieve a certain number of acceptable CME credits before that practitioner can re-register his or her medical license.

Frequent advancements in the field of medicine constantly change the medical climate in the United States . In order to maintain the quality and standards of medical care across the nation, those in the medical field are required to participate in continuing medical education throughout the duration of their careers.

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The requirements for the number and type of Continuing Medical Education credits differ by state. For example; Alabama requires medical practitioners to achieve 12 CME credits in one year, while Kansas requires 50 hours in that same period of time. A CME 'contact hour' is considered 50 minutes of educational time. Continuing Education Units (CEUs), on the other hand, are different; one CEU equals 10 'contact hours.' In California , if a quarter of a physician's patients are over the age of 65 the doctor must focus 20 percent of his or her CME in geriatric medicine.

Some state medical boards also require practitioners to take courses in certain subjects such as AIDS and medical ethics, check with your board for further information on what is required and if they permit substitutions. For example; Florida physicians are allowed to substitute a one hour CME course on end-of-life care for what is an otherwise required one hour course on AIDS.

Continuing medical education courses must be approved and accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). CME courses should be classified as Category 1, which means that they are of a high enough quality to satisfy a number of national medical associations such as the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA bestows its Physician's Recognition Award on all Category 1 courses.

Further resources for medical practitioners who are looking into continuing medical education programs:

The ACCME site has accreditation reports at www.accme.org and links to CME providers. Its mission is to 'identify, develop and promote standards for quality CME'.

CMEWeb.com, published by Thomson American Health Consultants, claims it is 'the Web's largest source of instant online CME'. This site provides CME courses, accreditation information and a listing of state requirements.

The Academy for Healthcare Education offers courses and information on CME and the affiliated continuing pharmaceutical education or CPE at www.ahe.edu.