Accreditation Council for CME Announces New Commendation Criteria

Optional Criteria Reward Best Practices in Continuing Medical Education, Reflect CME Community’s Recommendations

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is pleased to announce the Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation. The new criteria incorporate recommendations from a diverse range of stakeholders about how to advance the role of continuing medical education (CME) in the changing health environment and leverage the power of education to improve healthcare.

“Accreditation with Commendation is our mechanism for recognizing and celebrating organizations that excel as CME providers. The new, optional criteria reflect the values, principles, and aspirations that the community of educators shared with us over the past several years. The criteria also reflect many of the evolving and increased expectations of learners; pursuing these best practices is likely to help accredited CME providers to address and anticipate evolving learner needs now and in the years to come. We appreciate the CME community’s high level of participation in this process and look forward to our continued engagement. We plan to do everything we can to support the CME community’s successful adoption of the new criteria and the evolution of educational strategies to achieve our shared goal of advancing quality and achieving outcomes in post-graduate medical education,” said Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME.

Encouraging Best Practices

The ACCME’s goal is to encourage and reward accredited CME providers for implementing best practices in pedagogy, engagement, evaluation, and change management, and for focusing on generating meaningful outcomes. The new commendation criteria are designed to serve as a guidepost for the future of CME. With these criteria, the ACCME will recognize the achievements of organizations that advance interprofessional collaborative practice, address public health priorities, create behavioral change, show leadership, leverage educational technology, and demonstrate the impact of education on healthcare professionals and patients.

Listening to Stakeholders

The ACCME solicited wide input to identify the commendable practices that the ACCME System should recognize and value. CME providers asked to be recognized for achieving best practices in educational design, delivery, and impact. Many educational providers said they are already implementing some of the practices that are now included in the new criteria. This final version is based on the CME community’s extensive feedback and is designed to be both achievable and meaningful.

The Menu Approach: Pathway to Commendation for All CME Provider Types

The ACCME adopted the menu approach to create flexibility, reflect the diversity of the CME community, and offer a pathway for all CME provider types to achieve Accreditation with Commendation.

There are 16 commendation criteria, divided into five categories:

  • Promotes Team-based Education
  • Addresses Public Health Priorities
  • Enhances Skills
  • Demonstrates Educational Leadership
  • Achieves Outcomes

To be eligible for Accreditation with Commendation, providers will need to demonstrate compliance with any seven criteria of their choice, from any category—plus one criterion from the Achieves Outcomes category—for a total of eight criteria.

The ACCME determined that one criterion from the outcomes category should be mandatory for achieving commendation because it’s important that the CME community demonstrate the relevance, value, and impact of CME. In addition, assessing outcomes from CME will enable the CME community to identify more effective ways of delivering CME and contributing to healthcare improvement.

Transition Phase

There will be a transition phase during which accredited CME providers that choose to aim to achieve Accreditation with Commendation will have the option of demonstrating compliance with all of the current commendation criteria (C16-22) or the new commendation criteria menu (C23-C38).  This phase will apply to providers that will receive accreditation decisions between November 2017 and November 2019.

Education and Resources

In the coming months, we will deliver additional educational resources and training for our stakeholders including Recognized Accreditors, accredited CME providers, and volunteers. We hope that you will help us to help you by sharing your questions and ideas for tools and resources.

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The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago that is responsible for accrediting institutions that offer continuing medical education (CME) 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 promote standards for quality CME that improves healthcare for patients and their communities. There are nearly 1,900 accredited CME providers within the ACCME System that offer more than 148,000 activities each year, comprising more than one million hours of instruction and including more than 26 million interactions with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

The ACCME's member organizations—which represent the profession of medicine and include physician licensing and credentialing bodies—are the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association for Hospital Medical Education, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the US, Inc.

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