Accreditation Council for CME Reflects on 2009 Expanded Outreach

ACCME 2009 outreach focused on supporting accredited providers' efforts to produce CME that is a Bridge to QualityTM
Chicago, IL
December 22, 2009


The Accreditation Council for CME (ACCME) focused its 2009 education and outreach efforts on supporting accredited continuing medical education (CME) providers as they fulfill the expectations of the 2006 ACCME Accreditation Criteria. These expanded initiatives reflect the ACCME’s ongoing commitment to supporting accredited providers and promoting CME as a Bridge to QualityTM.

2009 Regional Forums: Building Communities of Practice

The ACCME conducted four Regional Forums in New Jersey, Washington, Texas and Illinois in collaboration with ACCME-Recognized State Medical Societies. Focused on promoting collaboration among CME providers, the forums involved more than 230 CME leaders representing 26 states.

  • Participants engaged in a strategic mapping exercise to build approaches to better collaboration between CME leaders and their key organizational stakeholders. A number of providers shared success stories about using CME as an asset to their organization’s mission.
  • ACCME staff conducted interactive sessions to address providers’ questions and challenges with respect to four key aspects of educational planning under the ACCME Criteria — gaps and educational needs, planning to promote change, evaluating change, and ensuring independence from commercial interests.
  • At the end of each conference day, a leadership session provided the opportunity for state-based accreditation volunteers, state medical society CME staff, and accredited providers to share effective strategies for driving professional, organizational, and system change with CME.

Feedback from the Regional Forum Participants

"As the day went on, I found myself wondering, ‘What took so long?’ for CME to be cast as a true asset to an organization. Perhaps the spirit was there all along, but it is never a good idea to assume that higher-ups understand the value of a particular program or service. This meeting gave us the methods to spell it out to the decision-makers."

"Very empowering! And the interaction provided some new examples of activities that could be used to address gaps in knowledge and performance."

Town Hall Meetings at the ACCME

To actively support the needs of nationally-accredited providers, the ACCME conducted a series of town-hall style meetings for different types of accredited organizations. Before each meeting, the ACCME asked registrants to submit questions and topics they wished to discuss — many of which have been developed into video FAQs hosted on the Education and Training section of the ACCME Web site.

  • A meeting of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies' CME Directors included a discussion about the ACCME’s broad definition of physicians’ “professional practice.”  The definition supports CME that improves competence (strategies) and performance for physicians in administrative, teaching, basic science research and other disciplines.
  • More than 20 representatives from medical education and communication companies shared examples of how collaboration and creativity could help organizations achieve Accreditation with Commendation by addressing ACCME Criteria 16 – 22.
  • Hospital, health system, non-profit foundations and government CME providers convened to discuss challenges with managing documentation and getting their physician leaders “on board” with the ACCME Criteria.
  • Forty-five CME leaders of medical school CME programs shared strategies and asked the ACCME for direction on managing large numbers of regularly scheduled series.
  • The last Town Hall meeting in 2009 was conducted for CME consulting companies that advise CME providers on accreditation best practices. Participants used the opportunity to discuss ACCME tools, such as the Guide to the Accreditation Process, and address commonly asked questions.

Feedback from the Town Hall Participants 

"I valued the small group setting, face-to-face time with ACCME leadership, and the willingness of the ACCME to provide positive and frank feedback."

"It was helpful to have direct commentary from ACCME about the Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation. Great to hear perspectives from other similar provider types in response to conversations."

"I found evidence of the fact we are not in a silo – the majority of providers nationwide, regardless of size and sophistication, are all grappling with the same barriers, issues, and questions."

A Year of Collaboration with ACCME-Recognized State Medical Societies

Forty-five state accreditors comprise the intrastate accreditation system; they accredit more than 1,500 CME providers. ACCME staff participated in a number of events to assist accreditors as they evaluate and facilitate their providers' transition to the 2006 Accreditation Criteria.

  • ACCME staff participated in a number of state provider conferences, sharing educational approaches and insights to achieving compliance with the 2006 Criteria.
  • An average of 30 states and 58 individuals (including CME staff and accreditation volunteers) participated in monthly webinars to share and exchange feedback with the ACCME.
  • These calls, together with the Regional Forums (described above) culminated in the Annual State/Territory Medical Society Conference in Chicago in November. Fifty-three accreditation leaders, including members of the ACCME Committee for Review and Recognition, participated in the two-day meeting. The ACCME conducted educational sessions to support accreditation decision-making practices, and the entire group participated in a strategic visioning exercise about the future of CME.
Expanded ACCME Workshop Offerings
  • The ACCME conducted three CME as a Bridge to QualityTM Accreditation Workshops in Chicago, in the spring, summer, and winter of 2009 — engaging a total of 420 providers and CME stakeholders in intensive training and breakouts on how to plan and implement CME in compliance with the ACCME 2006 Criteria.
  • To address common questions from providers about how to approach the planning of CME activities that utilize different formats, the ACCME added a new "Special Topics" session to the CME as a Bridge to Quality workshops.
  • As a new offering, the ACCME hosted a single-day workshop for representatives of 55 providers on educational assessment, presented by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) in September 2009. The course was entitled Fundamentals of Assessment in Medical Education.
Educational Collaboration with CME Leadership Organizations
  • In September, the ACCME co-hosted a webinar with the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education (SACME) for more than 110 participants.
  • In November, 91 hospital-based CME professionals participated in a webinar entitled "Conducting A Needs Assessment and Identifying Practice Gaps: Getting It Right," hosted by the Association of Hospital Medical Educators (AHME), an ACCME Member Organization.
Outreach to Pharmaceutical and Device Manufacturers

In December 2008, the ACCME hosted a meeting of education and regulatory staff from 12 pharmaceutical and device companies to discuss their strategies for supporting the independence of accredited providers from commercial influence. The participants shared an ongoing commitment to an open dialogue to ensure that commercially-supported CME advances the interests of public health, and does not promote the proprietary interests of commercial interests.

Multimedia Education Site

The ACCME launched an Education and Training section on its Web site to support providers year-round as they fulfill the expectations of the 2006 Accreditation Criteria. The site features video FAQs answering questions that ACCME staff heard during the regional forums and town hall meetings. Here are some highlights :


The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education is a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago that is responsible for accrediting U.S. institutions that offer continuing medical education through a voluntary, self-regulatory system. The ACCME also has a system for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors for local organizations offering CME.

The ACCME's mission is to identify, develop and enforce standards for quality continuing medical education that improves health care for patients and their communities. There are currently approximately 2,500 accredited CME providers in the United States, whose educational activities draw more than 17 million health care practitioner participants annually.

The ACCME's member  organizations include the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Association for Hospital Medical Education, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the U.S. Inc.

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