Accreditation Council for CME President and CEO Defines Future of CME in JAMA Viewpoint

“Advancing Continuing Medical Education,” by Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME, Describes Key Role for CME in Driving Healthcare Quality Improvement and Change

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is pleased to announce the publication of “Advancing Continuing Medical Education,” by Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME, in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The article appears online today and will be published in the August 11 print issue.

In the Viewpoint, Dr. McMahon describes the importance of accredited CME in supporting physicians’ continuing professional development and in responding to the evolving healthcare environment. He explains the evolution of CME over the past 15 years, as increasingly CME has been designed to create meaningful change in healthcare professionals’ skills and performance and to affect patient outcomes.

Defining a vision for the future of accredited CME, Dr. McMahon calls on educators to become even more flexible and innovative in meeting healthcare professionals’ practice-based needs and public health imperatives. To maximize the effectiveness of education, Dr. McMahon encourages clinicians to choose deliberately and participate actively in educational programs.


Physicians expect high-quality, relevant, effective education that is independent of commercial bias. Dr. McMahon explains the safeguards that meet those expectations. The importance of ensuring that CME activities are free of commercial bias is a critical priority for ACCME and is under continual review, he states, noting that only a small minority of accredited educational programs receive commercial support. In addition to the ACCME’s regular, recurring oversight of CME activities to ensure compliance with requirements for independence, Dr. McMahon says that “the entire medical community needs to take responsibility for preventing, detecting, reporting, and remediating commercial bias.”

Collaboration to Drive Healthcare Improvement

Dr. McMahon describes current and future opportunities for collaboration in the continuing education and healthcare communities. Healthcare leadership organizations in the private and public spheres should recognize accredited CME as a partner in quality improvement and use education as a strategic resource to drive change, respond to emerging health issues, and accelerate the translation of research into science.

The CME community has the opportunity to collaborate with undergraduate and graduate medical education to effectively engage with individual learners for the rest of their careers. Continuing education accreditors across the health professions need to continue to work together to advance interprofessional continuing education—and educators need to respect and recognize patients as part of the healthcare team.

In conclusion, Dr. McMahon states, “Effective CME programs have the capacity to help physicians and healthcare teams learn how to improve practice and patient care; how to intervene in health behaviors, social and economic factors, and the public’s physical environment; and how to improve the health of the nation.”

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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 approximately 1,900 accredited CME providers within the ACCME System that offer more than 147,000 activities each year, comprising more than one million hours of instruction and including more than 25 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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