For first-time, or initial applicants, the accreditation process takes twelve to eighteen months. To begin and support your process, please review the educational information about ACCME accreditation and expectations, found on our FAQ webpage.
The ACCME accredits organizations that provide continuing medical education for physicians. The ACCME does not accredit individual educational activities.
Initial Accreditation Process:
If your organization is deemed eligible through the pre-application review process, you will be invited to continue with the initial accreditation process. The ACCME’s initial accreditation process is an opportunity for each applicant to demonstrate that its practice of CME is in compliance with the ACCME’s accreditation requirements through three primary sources of data.
The self-study report is an opportunity for you to tell the “story” of your CME program to the ACCME and provide background and information on how your organization accomplishes its CME mission. Initial applicants are asked to provide descriptions, attachments, and examples to give the reader an understanding of CME practice(s) related to the ACCME Accreditation Criteria, Standards for Commercial Support, and policies. Descriptions are narrative explanations. Attachments are specific documents. Examples are demonstrations of the implementation of the practices described that may include narrative and/or attachments. The self-study process provides an opportunity for the initial applicant to:
- assess its commitment to and role in providing continuing medical education,
- analyze its current practices and their success in helping the applicant meet its educational mission.
The ACCME provides specific instructions about what to include in the self-study report. Organizations found eligible to apply for initial accreditation have up to nine months in which to conduct and submit their self-study report. Many initial applicants find that they need a full nine months to conduct a thorough self-analysis of their CME program. ACCME encourages you to use this time effectively to develop a report that clearly describes and documents your educational enterprise. You must demonstrate compliance with ACCME’s Criteria 1-3 and 7-12 to receive an outcome of Provisional Accreditation with a two-year accreditation term. If any of the Criteria 1-3 or 7-12 are found to be in Noncompliance, the accreditation outcome will be Non-Accreditation.
Please be advised that the ACCME has no relationship with, and does not endorse, any vendor providing accreditation compliance advice or products to CME providers. The ACCME has neither approved nor disapproved the advice or products of any such vendors.
Conducting a self-study requires time and effort from many constituents involved in your CME program. Appropriate leadership of the self-study effort and broad involvement of administration, faculty, attendees and other stakeholders are important to a successfully planned and implemented self-study.
Once your self-study report is complete, you will submit it to the ACCME. ACCME staff will review the self-study report for completeness and contact you with any questions. Note that ACCME conducts its affairs in English, and requires that all self-study reports be submitted in English.
The self-study report outline includes the questions initial applicants will be asked to complete. All information and materials must be submitted in the ACCME's Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS), https://pars.accme.org.
Initial applicants are asked to verify that their CME activities are in compliance with ACCME accreditation requirements through the documentation review process. The initial applicant will present evidence to the ACCME for documentation review from at least two recently completed educational activities.
Actions required for this process:
- Select at least two CME activities, completed within the last 24 months, for performance-in-practice review
- Enter data into the ACCME’s Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) (pars.accme.org) for the activities it selects for performance-in-practice review
- Submit evidence of performance-in-practice for each of the selected activities using the ACCME’s Performance-in-Practice Structured Abstract
The activities selected for performance-in-practice review may be conducted in joint providership with an accredited ACCME provider, or they may be offered by initial applicants without CME credit. In all cases, the evidence of performance-in-practice presented from these activities will be an important data source upon which the initial accreditation findings and decision will be based.
Following the structured abstract, initial applicants will provide the information requested with narrative explanations and statements, in tables, and include documents and evidence to verify that the activity meets the ACCME’s requirements. Initial applicants are expected to provide performance-in-practice evidence that demonstrates compliance with Criteria 2, 3, 7, 8, and 11, and all applicable ACCME accreditation policies. Initial applicants may also choose to submit evidence for Criteria 5, 6, and 13, but this evidence will not affect the organization’s accreditation status.
Initial applicants are presented with the opportunity to further describe the practices presented in the self-study report and activity files, and provide clarification as needed, in conversation with a team of volunteer surveyors, who are colleagues from the CME community, trained by the ACCME.
You will be required to submit the written self-study report and evidence of performance-in-practice, along with payment of the Initial Accreditation Fee before participating in the accreditation interview. Once all required information and payment have been received, the ACCME will schedule your accreditation interview.
Please note, your organization must have a CME activity reviewed, which entails the observation of one of your organization’s CME activities, of any format, by an ACCME volunteer surveyor or ACCME staff. These requirements must be fulfilled as a part of your organization’s initial accreditation review process or as part of your organization’s subsequent reaccreditation review process to be eligible to advance from Provisional Accreditation to Accreditation. The Activity Review requirement is separate from and in addition to the standard performance-in-practice review process. Observations for the activity review will be recorded in the ACCME Activity Review Form and will be considered along with the other materials and evidence supporting the accreditation review process leading to your organization’s reaccreditation decision.
The process for initial accreditation takes between 12 and 18 months.
Factors to Consider:
If your organization is considering applying for ACCME initial accreditation, there are several factors you should consider in determining whether ACCME accreditation is right for you.
Purpose of ACCME Accreditation
Accredited CME is an essential component of continuing physician professional development in the eyes of the US organizations of medicine. ACCME accreditation is a mark of quality continuing medical education (CME) activities that are planned, implemented and evaluated by ACCME accredited providers in accordance with the ACCME’s Accreditation Criteria, Standards for Commercial Support, and policies (accreditation requirements). ACCME accreditation assures the medical community and the public that such activities provide physicians with information that can assist them in maintaining or improving their practice of medicine, to help them bridge the gap between today’s care and what care should be. In addition, accredited CME activities are free of commercial bias and based on valid content.
Purpose of the ACCME
The ACCME is the organization that sets educational standards for CME activities, and monitors its accredited providers’ adherence to those standards. The ACCME accredits organizations, and does not accredit individual activities. Organizations that are not accredited that would like to partner with an ACCME accredited provider in the provision of quality CME can enter into joint providership with an accredited organization.
It is important to note that the ACCME does not reward the continuing educational accomplishments of individual physicians. Rather, those accomplishments are rewarded by other organizations which, for example, require physicians to complete a certain amount and/or type of CME for membership or re-licensure. As such, CME providers are not ACCME accredited for the purpose of granting credit. The requirements for granting credit are maintained by the other organizations themselves. Since different credentialing bodies have varying requirements, CME providers should be aware of the requirements of the particular credentialing body for which credit is being granted.
The ACCME has several expectations of those who apply for ACCME accreditation:
- Eligible organizations that decide to apply for ACCME accreditation should be prepared to both describe and furnish evidence that demonstrates compliance with the accreditation requirements. For this reason, organizations applying for ACCME accreditation must plan, implement and evaluate at least two CME activities within approximately two years prior to the submission of materials for initial accreditation.
- The ACCME expects its accredited providers to monitor their overall CME program for compliance with the accreditation requirements and to fulfill annual reporting requirements. For a description of the ongoing responsibilities of ACCME accredited providers, see Maintaining Accreditation - Ongoing Responsibilities of Accredited Providers
- Payment of certain fees is required to obtain and maintain ACCME accreditation. For a schedule of current ACCME fees, click Accreditation Fee Schedule
- The ACCME conducts its affairs in English, and requires that all information be submitted in English.
The ACCME has specific criteria for determining an organization’s eligibility to receive ACCME accreditation. See Eligibility for more information.
A Note Regarding Vendors of Accreditation Compliance Advice and Products
Please be advised that the ACCME has no relationship with and does not endorse any vendor providing accreditation compliance advice or products to CME providers. The ACCME has neither approved nor disapproved the advice or products of any such vendors.
Please refer to the ACCME Information and Confidentiality Statements in the ACCME Policies for information regarding the confidentiality of provider data during the accreditation process.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) has issued the following warning: The organization doing business as the American Academy of Continuing Medical Education (AACME) and the American Association of CME (AACME), which describes itself as a CME accreditor, is not the ACCME® and is not a part of the ACCME® system. It is not accredited as a CE provider or recognized as an accreditor by the ACCME®. For more information, please see this news release.