October 1998 Bulletin

32 states require CME credits

Course must be conducted by accredited organization

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now require continuing medical education as a requirement for relicensing and all but three of those states have implemented rules that require physicians to submit reports of their CME activities.

In order to qualify as CME for state relicensing, the continuing medical education program must be conducted by an organization that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The Academy was recently reaccredited by the ACCME. See Academy gets 4-year accreditation. Almost all agencies that require CME require that some of the hours be from accredited programs with Category 1 credit from the American Medical Association's Physician's Recognition Award program. However, some states specify only a total number of hours and may accept Category 1 and Category 2 hours.

"There's a common misconception that Category 1 hours are somehow 'better' than Category 2 hours," said Mark W. Wieting, Academy vice president for education programs. "They simply are different kinds of learning experiences and have equally high standards for design of the program. We offer both Category 1 and Category 2 programs."

Category 1 activities include formal learning programs given by accredited sponsors, CME activities in journals that include a test and international conferences approved by the AMA. Some CME "enduring materials," including printed educational materials, audiotapes, videotapes, computer-assisted instruction, videodiscs and CD-ROM products, also carry Category 1 credit. In all cases, however, physicians using these materials are required to submit to the sponsoring organization evidence of having completed the program, usually some kind of post-test.

The Academy's surgical skills courses, lecture courses, self-assessment examinations and interactive CD-ROM programs offer Category 1 credit.

Practice management courses like "Options and Opportunities in Consolidating Markets: Orthopaedic Mergers and Buyouts" do not offer CME credit.

CME credit is offered on a per hour basis. For example, completion of a two-and-a-half day course such as "Contemporary Issues in Advanced Spinal Surgery" garners 24 total hours of Category 1 CME credit while working through each subject in "Orthopaedic Grand Rounds, Series 2 on CD-ROM" is worth two credit hours.

Although twice a year the Academy provides each member a unified transcript of all CME hours earned in Academy and most specialty society activities, each orthopaedic surgeon is charged with keeping track of his or her own CME hours. Regardless of the amount of credit designated by the Academy for a CME activity, physicians should claim only the hours actually spent participating in the activity or studying the materials. For example, the "Common Hand and Wrist Problems" course is offered over a three-day period for 18 total hours of Category 1 CME credit. But if a surgeon only participates in half the course, he should claim (and report to the state agency) nine hours of Category 1 CME credit, not 18.

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