Debunking CME Planning Myths: Tips for Simplification

Whether you’ve worked in accredited CME for many years, or you are just starting out, there is always an opportunity to pause and reflect on ways to streamline your processes and reduce workloads for your team, faculty, and learners. To support our accredited providers and encourage more efficient planning strategies, we asked leaders in CME planning to share some common myths they have encountered about accreditation, and to set the record straight.

Read on for more tips from:

team headshots

Myth: The activity course chair must fill out the CME activity planning form. 

Reality: While many accredited providers utilize a planning document to ensure all areas of activity planning and documentation are addressed, you have great flexibility in how you capture this information.  Rather than asking a faculty member to complete yet another form, consider how else you might get the information needed. Can you instead schedule a 10-minute conversation with them, and ask a few questions?  If you employ this tactic, we encourage use of everyday questions such as “What practice-based problem will this education address?” Perhaps other office staff are involved in coordinating logistics and can provide some of the details you need.

“Think through each section of your form–you might be able to piece together the information from a few different sources. Admittedly, this might be more time-intensive for the CME office, yet a better alternative to no response from a busy faculty member.” –Mindi Daiga

“Put yourself in the shoes of the faculty member. Consider developing a process map outlining the faculty member’s role in the planning process and brainstorm ways in which participation can be streamlined and made easier.” –Kurt Snyder

For more planning and evaluation tips, check out the course, “Streamlining CE Planning,” on ACCME Academy, our online learning platform. Need help accessing the Academy? Contact info@accme.org for more information.

Myth: An accredited provider is required to publish learning objectives with at least one objective for each topic within an activity and must provide documentation of the published objectives to the ACCME.

Reality: While learners should be able to discern the purpose of an educational activity to ensure it will meet their needs, there is no accreditation criterion that requires learning objectives, let alone requires a specific number of them or that they be published or reported to the ACCME.

“When inviting speakers for the ACP, we provide them with clinical questions we’d like them to address rather than requiring them to provide their own learning objectives.” –Elizabeth Nettleton

“Ask yourself, are there existing steps that are slowing down your faculty?  Consider drafting objectives, a session description, and any other information needed, and sharing with your planning committee and/or faculty for their input. If you can get them 80% of the way there, you might be in a better position to receive activity details from them in accordance with your timeline.” –Mindi Daiga

Myth: The ACCME requires that learners complete an evaluation form following every activity.

Reality: There are many ways in which an accredited CME provider can evaluate changes in learners or patient outcomes, which do not include the explicit completion of a written evaluation or survey. One option is to facilitate short discussions during the education that are moderated by a facilitator who reports back new strategies discussed by the learners. Another strategy is to ask learners to share a reflective statement verbally, via e-mail, or via a text to the facilitator. Learn more here

“Prior to asking a learner to populate an evaluation, take a moment to ask yourself: ‘Why am I asking these questions? Is it possible to get these results in a more efficient way?’” –Kurt Snyder

Myth: An accredited CME provider must collect a new disclosure from an individual for each activity in which that individual is in control of content.

Reality: Accredited providers can share a copy of the disclosure for the individual on file and confirm if the information is still accurate or if changes need to be made. Learn more here.

“Throughout the years, my team and I have often worked with the same faculty members for our board review and exam prep courses. Instead of asking these individuals to send their basic information we already had on file, our team pre-populated the faculty members’ information and requested that they review to ensure it was still accurate. We also sent prior disclosures, slides, and handouts so faculty members could update these materials as needed or confirm no changes were necessary. Many faculty members thanked us for considerably lessening their workloads.” –Elizabeth Nettleton

Myth: It is better to over-collect disclosures from individuals out an abundance of caution. Examples include asking about financial interests for family members, going beyond two years, not using the proper definition, or asking for new information after the event.

Reality: Only collect what is required by ACCME for the purposes of CME accreditation—anything more does not increase your compliance and may be cumbersome for your team and the individual. Learn about disclosure requirements from the ACCME here.

“Collecting more disclosures and writing more text in your self-study doesn’t improve your compliance—similar to back in college when writing more blue books didn’t guarantee a higher exam grade. Having the correct practices and demonstrating these practices succinctly is all you need.” –Elizabeth Nettleton

The ACCME will continue to promote guidance and resources for simplifying the CME planning process. For more information, explore our standards resources webpage and frequently asked questions.

Need more assistance? Have a myth you want us to debunk? Email us at info@accme.org.