Accreditation Council for CME Opens Call for Feedback about Protecting the Integrity and Independence of Accredited Continuing Education

ACCME seeks stakeholder input about updating rules on independence to address the changing healthcare environment

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is pleased to open a call for feedback to review the rules that protect the independence and integrity of accredited continuing education (CE) for healthcare professionals. The initiative supports the ACCME’s strategic goal to assure the quality of accreditation and seeks to be responsive to stakeholders who have identified potential improvements over the past several years. 

To oversee the process of review, the ACCME has convened the Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE, with members representing diverse perspectives, including CE providers and the public. The task force will engage with stakeholders to identify new and existing challenges related to managing the complex issues of disclosure, conflicts of interest, and commercial support in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment. Stakeholders will be asked for recommendations about potential revisions to the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities℠ (the Standards) that will ensure their continued relevance and effectiveness. 

Through an inclusive review process, the ACCME will solicit feedback from national and international stakeholders including accredited CE providers, accreditors in the health professions, healthcare leaders, government agencies, commercial supporters, clinicians, patients, and the public. The ACCME will engage in dialogue with stakeholders at multiple forums, focus groups, and webinars. 

As an initial step, the ACCME has opened a call for feedback and welcomes responses from all stakeholders through March 8, 2019 at 5 PM Central. An information package, which includes a cover letter, the Standards and related policies, and the survey questions, is available here, to enable respondents to review the materials before submitting comments. 

Background and Purpose 

Independence is the cornerstone of Accredited CE: The purpose of accredited CE is to assure clinicians and teams a protected space to learn, teach, and engage in scientific discourse free from commercial influence. The ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities℠ are designed to create a clear, unbridgeable separation between accredited education and industry marketing and to ensure that accredited CE serves the needs of patients and the public.  

First adopted in 1992, the Standards were last updated in 2004, following an intensive review and consensus-building process by multiple stakeholders. Over the past 15 years, the Standards have become a national and international model, adopted by accreditors across the health professions. Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education™ adopted the Standards in its accreditation process for multiple health professions. Data suggest that the Standards provide a stable and well-established framework that has been effective at ensuring independence and insulating clinicians from promotion and marketing. Further, there is considerable evidence demonstrating that accredited CE effectively improves the ability of clinicians and teams to deliver high-quality care based on evidence. 

Leadership Comments 

“We encourage all of our colleagues and stakeholders to participate in this initiative so that we can work together to maintain the credibility of accredited CE and its accountability to the health professions and the public. It is our responsibility to continually monitor the healthcare environment, evaluate the effectiveness of our Standards, and respond to emerging issues. Through dialogue and consensus-building, we will create strategies for maximizing our ability to safeguard independence. With this effort, we will assure clinicians and teams that they can continue to trust accredited CE to help them to improve their practice and optimize the care, health, and wellness of the patients and communities we all serve.”—Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)  

“The continuing education community is responsible for maintaining an effective and relevant system of professional self-regulation that is accountable to the healthcare community, patients, and the public. To fulfill our responsibility, we need to evolve our safeguards to respond to the changing healthcare environment. We welcome all perspectives and look forward to engaging in constructive, open dialogue to identify opportunities for assuring and advancing quality learning for healthcare professionals that is free from commercial influence.”—Norman Kahn, MD, Co-Chair, Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE 

“The public has the right to expect that clinicians engage in continuing education that improves their ability to provide safe, high quality, cost-effective, and compassionate care. Accreditors and educators in the health professions have an obligation to place patients’ interests first, by setting and maintaining standards of integrity and independence. I’m proud to bring a public perspective to the Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE, and I invite patients, families, caregivers, and members of the public to share their ideas and expectations of accredited CME with us.”—Susan Spaulding, Co-Chair, Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE 

Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE  

The members of the Task Force on Protecting the Integrity of Accredited CE represent a diversity of perspectives and areas of expertise. Each has demonstrated a long-term commitment to advancing the quality and integrity of accredited CME. 

Co-Chair: Norman Kahn, MD, serves as Convener, Conjoint Committee on Continuing Education. Dr. Kahn is the former CEO of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS); he is a former member of the ACCME Board of Directors and served as chair of the task force that issued the 2004 Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities.  

Co-Chair: Susan Spaulding has served as public board member for healthcare organizations including the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States and the National Board of Medical Examiners. She served as public member of the ACCME Board of Directors during the adoption of the 2004 Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities.  

Barb Anderson, MS, is Chair, Interprofessional Continuing Education Partnership; and Director, Office of CPD, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Joni Fowler, PharmD, BCPP, is President/Owner, Creative Educational Concepts, Inc., a provider accredited by Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education™. Dr. Fowler serves on the Joint Accreditation Review Committee and as a volunteer surveyor for Joint Accreditation for prospective providers of interprofessional continuing education (IPCE). 

Linda Gage-White, MD, PhD, MBA, is board-certified in otolaryngology and holds joint appointments in Otolaryngology and Pediatrics at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport. She currently serves on the ACCME Board of Directors and formerly served on the ACCME Accreditation Review Committee. 

Stuart Gilman, MD, MPH, is Director of Advanced Fellowships in the Office of Academic Affiliations, Veterans Health Administration. Dr. Gilman currently is a Federal Government representative to the ACCME Board of Directors and formerly served on the ACCME Accreditation Review Committee. 

Timothy Holder, MD, is Medical Director, Supportive Care and Survivorship, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Tulsa. He is the immediate past chair, ACCME Accreditation Review Committee, and formerly served on the ACCME Board of Directors and Committee for Review and Recognition.  

Wanda Johnson, CMP, CAE, is CEO, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. She formerly served for 25 years at the Endocrine Society, most recently as Chief Program Officer. 

Jeffrey Mallin, MD, is a pediatrician with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group at the Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, where he was Director of Medical Education for 10 years. Dr. Mallin currently serves on the ACCME Board of Directors and is Vice Chair, Committee for Review and Recognition; he is a former member of the ACCME Accreditation Review Committee. 


Call for Feedback PDF: Information package, including an introduction, the Standards and related policies, and the survey questions. 

Call for Feedback Online Survey: Comments will be accepted until March 8, 2019 at 5 PM Central.  

Standards for Commercial Support Resources Webpage: Tips and tools about the Standards and related policies, including FAQ, videos, and examples of compliance and noncompliance. 

Media Inquiries  

Tamar Hosansky

Megan Peters Jovic



The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, responsible for accrediting organizations that offer continuing medical education (CME) and for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors of local CME programs.  

The ACCME sets standards for CME that reflect the values of the educator community and aim to accelerate learning, inspire change, and champion improvement in healthcare. These standards ensure that accredited CME is designed to be relevant to clinicians’ needs, evidence-based, evaluated for its effectiveness, and independent of commercial influence. Through participation in accredited CME, clinicians and teams drive improvement in their practice and optimize the care, health, and wellness of their patients.  

Accredited CME facilitates engagement with physicians and healthcare teams where they live, learn, and work. There are approximately 1,800 accredited CME providers within the ACCME System, across the country and internationally, representing a range of organizations including medical schools, hospitals/health systems, government/military agencies, specialty societies, and insurance/managed-care companies. Accredited providers offer about 163,000 activities each year, comprising more than one million hours of instruction and including more than 28 million interactions with physicians and other healthcare professionals.  

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