21st Century Milestones

In 2006, the ACCME released updated accreditation requirements designed to support the needs of physicians and other health care professionals in the changing health care environment. These accreditation requirements have repositioned accredited CME as a strategic partner in the quality improvement and safety imperatives of the US health care system.

Learner-Centered, Practice-Based

Accredited CME is based on a learner-centered, continuous improvement model. Accredited providers facilitate self-directed, practice-based education that supports physicians’ commitment to lifelong learning. Whether health care professionals work in clinical care, research, administration, executive leadership, or other areas of medicine, accredited CME is tailored to their needs and scope of practice.

CME is designed to offer solutions to real-world practice issues. In addition to providing updates on the latest medical practices, guidelines, and research, accredited CME activities address local community health concerns and support problem-solving and quality improvement initiatives within health professionals' institutions.  

Accredited CME is offered through a wide range of formats and structures. Much more than traditional lectures and grand rounds, CME encompasses one-on-one training, performance-improvement projects, patient safety initiatives, online simulation, learning from teaching, courses, team-based learning, and numerous other approaches.

Safeguarding Independence

The purpose of CME accredited within the ACCME system must be to serve physicians’ learning and practice needs and to promote public health.  The 2004 ACCME Standards for Commercial SupportSM: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities and related policies aim to facilitate the appropriate free flow of new information and scientific exchange, while preserving accredited CME’s independence and freedom from commercial influence. The Standards are recognized as a national model by federal and state government agencies, other health care accrediting bodies, and the profession of medicine.

Supporting Professional Requirements

Accredited CME aligns with continuing professional development systems such as the American Medical Association Physician's Recognition Award credit system, the American Board of Medical Specialties Maintenance of Certification® and the Federation of State Medical Boards Maintenance of Licensure initiatives, and hospital accreditation requirements such as The Joint Commission’s OPPE/FPPE standards. Through this alignment, accredited CME aims to support physician learners, their institutions, and patients.

Nationwide Access

Accredited CME that supports continuing professional development is available to physicians and other health care practitioners across the United States. The ACCME accredits approximately 700 organizations and recognizes 41 state and territory medical societies as accreditors of approximately 1,200 state-based organizations offering CME. Accredited providers represent a wide range of organizations, from national specialty societies to small community hospitals. In total, there are nearly 1,900 accredited CME providers that offer more than 148,000 activities each year.

Related Information
ACCME at a Glance
Annual Report Data
Addressing Quality and Safety Challenges:  Joint Commission Perspectives (Part 1 of 2)
CME Addressing Quality and Safety:  Joint Commission Perspectives (Part 2 of 2)