What is Continuing Medical Education (CME)?

what is a cme credit

Part of being an active, practicing physician is a commitment to continuing medical education. Many states in the U.S. require a yearly quota of CME credits to maintain an active medical license. 

Managing and obtaining CME credits can feel overwhelming to many doctors and clinicians. To support you in this essential task, we’ve created an online overview detailing what you need to know about CME credits and how to obtain them.

What is CME?

Firstly, what does CME stand for and what is its purpose? The CME medical abbreviation stands for Continuing Medical Education. This type of education in healthcare aims to maintain, develop, and advance the knowledge and skill required to guarantee a high level of professional performance and patient care among physicians.

Physicians must complete various modules relating to medical science, clinical medicine, and providing healthcare to the public. 

What is a CME Credit?

CME stands for continuing medical education. These continuing trainings ensure practitioners stay current on the latest advances in medicine. If your job within the medical field requires a license or certification to practice, you will most likely need to complete CME educational activities annually to renew your permit to practice. 

Doctors, nurses, and other allied health care professionals are all required to participate in educational activities each year. This is a mandatory, ongoing requirement throughout your career to help keep you up to date in your profession. Depending on your license or certification, the number of required health credits will differ. With so many tech advances in healthcare, continuing professional development is critical to improving patient care.

A major responsibility for anyone who is required to obtain and maintain these CME units is to ensure they do so in a timely manner, and do not let their license or certification expire.

Contact your professional licensing board to find out the specifics of how many credits you need and how to get them. The requirements are not uniform across every license and state.

what are the AMA Categories for CME credits

Types of Continuing Medical Education Credits 

Now that you know the answer to “What are CME credits?” let’s review the different types available. It’s important to note that not all types of CME credit are the same and the CME definition can vary based on your service location. Be sure to check which are accepted by your licensing board. Also, some are online courses while others are in-person.

Here’s a short guide to give you an overview of each CME meaning, the various types of credit and how to qualify for them.

AMA PRA Category 1 Credit 

American Medical Association (AMA) Category 1 credits are the most common type of credit available for US physicians. You need to participate in activities accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

You will need to participate in various sponsored events and complete all the activities. Confirm the “AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™” designation statement on any promotional materials supplied by the organizations, where the maximum number of credits will also be specified. You can confirm the event is certified on the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) website.

AMA PRA Category 2 Credit 

The American Medical Association category 2 CME credit is awarded for any activities that have not been certified under the category 1 credit system. Physicians must claim and self-document the activity.

Activities within this category cannot be promotional and must be fully compliant with AMA ethical opinions.

Unlike category 1 credits, category 2 cannot be promoted openly. Instead, physicians must document the description of the activity and the number of credits they are attempting to claim.

A single CME credit amounts to 60 minutes of participation time, rounded to the closest quarter-hour.

AAFP Prescribed Credits

These credits are designed primarily for physicians. The content of the activity will relate to patient care and the delivery of that care, as well as some nonclinical subjects and skills. Some examples of activities that provide these credits include:

  • Life support courses
  • Point-of-care learning
  • Scholarly sessions
  • Presentations
  • Health professions learners education

There are also elective credits, but you need to make sure that your state board accepts these activities. 

what are the ways to earn CME credit

How to earn CME credit 

Healthcare professionals can tackle CME education in a variety of ways. The number of credits required and awarded, depends on the activity, your specialization, and the state where you hold a license to practice.

Some examples of how to acquire credits include:

  • Classes
  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Conferences
  • Webinars

There are limits on how many credits you can earn from specific activities. For example, you may only earn 60 credits from teaching per three-year cycle.

Now, you can  earn CME credits online. Sermo is constantly helping physicians with their continuing medical education requirements.

Sermo has partnerships with leading education and advocacy bodies to provide access to CME resources directly on the platform. For example, Sermo partners with RealCME to offer CME courses to members on a wide range of topics, including What’s New in Eczema Management, Optimizing Patient Outcomes in Diabetic Retinopathy and Optimizing the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. They are free for members.

With so many ways to address continuing medical education requirements, physicians have a broad selection of options for obtaining the training hours they need.

Continuing your education

CME is an essential part of enjoying a long medical career, updating your skills and forming new professional relationships. You are not only ticking boxes but constantly advancing your medical knowledge.

The world’s largest dedicated social network for doctors, Sermo, offers countless resources to help you earn CME credits online.

To make earning CME simple, sign up for a Sermo account now.