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Free Continuing Medical Education

Free Continuing Medical Education

Where to Find Free Continuing Medical Education

Free continuing medical education courses are offered by a number of recognized medical associations and schools providing Category 1 CME credits online. Category 1 means that courses are of a high enough quality to attain the American Medical Association Physician's Recognition Award; state medical boards unquestioningly accept Category 1 credits.

Some medical schools and hospitals offer free continuing medical education but it is more likely that they will charge at least $25 per CME credit. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturing firms sponsor some online CME courses and while they provide legitimate Category 1 credits, the subject matter is usually limited to the sponsor's product.


It is possible, however, to find free tests, readings, outlines and reports online. Here are some schools and organizations that offer free continuing medical education:

  • The American Cancer Society has a number of online CME articles and quizzes that provide Category 1 credit hours in the field of oncology. Their site, cme.amcancersoc.org, lets you keep track of your credits in an online folder and supplies printable certificates.
  • Baylor College of Medicine offers free online CME courses at www.bcm.tmc.edu. To receive credit you must read the information, download and view the text and/or presentation slides,and then take an online test. Baylor will e-mail you an online certificate within 24 hours; credits range from half a Category 1 credit to two credits.
  • Medscape.com provides CME in the form of articles and 'highlights' from national and international medical association meetings. These reports supply Category 1 credit hours. The courses cover every type of medicine from pathology to pediatrics. You can keep a record of your credits with an online tracker.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide online quizzes that each supply one Category 1 credit. The answers are graded immediately and participants must answer at least 70 percent correctly to receive credit. The NIH provides printable certificates.

Some institutions offer online CME that is free to view but you must pay to receive credit:

  • Harvard Medical School (cmeonline.med.harvard.edu) provides multimedia and interactive online courses that use multiple choice tests to bestow between one to six credits. Cost ranges from $20 to $199.
  • The American Nurses Association offers interactive online courses and classes that provide one to three nursing contact hours. Courses are available for purchase at www.nursingworld.org with some free modules available to ANA members.