Proposal for New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation

Our call for public comment about our proposal for a menu of new criteria for Accreditation with Commendation is closed. We appreciate the CME community’s high level of participation.  

Our Community’s Perspectives

More than 245 respondents, representing a range of organizations and CME providers, submitted feedback via the online survey, offering more than 2,600 individual comments.

The majority of respondents agreed that the criteria were clear as written, offer flexibility, and would achieve the goal of advancing quality and achieving outcomes in post-graduate medical education.

Many respondents requested additional clarification and definitions for some of the terms and expressed concern that the measures for achieving compliance were too difficult and that the criteria would not be attainable for all CME provider types.

We Hear You: We share the same goals and values — we want to make sure the criteria are attainable by our diverse community of providers and we want to make sure the criteria encourage our community to aim for even higher levels of achievement.

Next Steps: At its March meeting, the ACCME Board of Directors held an in-depth discussion about the responses and decided that it is important to continue to reflect on the feedback. As a next step, we will consider all the feedback and formulate an evolved set of guidelines and compliance measures to present to the Board at the July 2016 meeting for continued discussion and possible adoption. As always, we will keep you informed as this process unfolds.

Download a brief summary of the call for comment responses.

Download the responses to the call for comment.

Proposal for a Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: This PDF includes the proposed new criteria, a Message from the CEO, and explanatory information. 

Important Points and Timeline

Current Criteria Remain in Place: The current commendation Criteria 16–22 remain in place and accredited CME providers should continue to comply with them, in addition to complying with existing core Accreditation Criteria 1–13, to achieve Accreditation with Commendation.

Transition Plan: Once the Board of Directors has finalized the criteria, the ACCME will release a transition plan for the CME community. The new criteria will be implemented for ACCME-accredited and state-accredited providers. (There is no change to requirements for Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education™.) There will be a an extended  transition phase, during which accredited providers that choose to aim to achieve Accreditation with Commendation will have the option of demonstrating compliance with the current or new commendation criteria. The transition phase will serve two purposes: it will ensure that CME providers that have been working to achieve or sustain commendation under the current criteria will continue to have that opportunity; and it will give providers time to prepare to meet the expectations of the new criteria. As always, compliance with the commendation criteria will be optional for CME providers and is not required to achieve Accreditation.

Commendation Remains Optional: As with the existing commendation criteria, compliance with the new commendation criteria will be optional for CME providers and will not be required to achieve Accreditation. Providers will continue to achieve Accreditation by demonstrating compliance with the current core Accreditation Criteria 1-13. 

Achieving Accreditation with Commendation: Accredited providers will need to continue to demonstrate compliance with existing core Accreditation Criteria 1–13 to be eligible to achieve Accreditation with Commendation, in addition to meeting the expectations of the current or new commendation criteria.

Education and Resources: We will provide ongoing education and training for Recognized Accreditors, accredited CME providers, volunteers, and other stakeholders to support the CME community’s successful adoption of the new criteria.

For Updated Information: Visit this webpage for updated information and links to relevant materials.

Questions? Please contact

Purpose of Proposed Criteria

The goal of the proposed new criteria 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 proposal reflects the recommendations we have gathered from a diverse range of stakeholders about how to advance CME’s role in the changing health environment and leverage the power of education to improve healthcare.

The proposed commendation criteria are designed to serve as a guidepost for the future of CME. We want to 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.

Building on Success and Engagement

Implemented in 2008, the current criteria for Accreditation with Commendation were designed to position the CME community as a strategic asset to the quality improvement and safety imperatives of the US healthcare system. Over the years, providers demonstrated an increasing ability to meet the expectations of the criteria. Currently, about 50% of providers successfully achieve commendation status, demonstrating—among other attributes—that they integrate CME into the process for improving professional practice and act as strategic partners in quality initiatives through collaborative alliances.

In response to this growing success, and as part of its strategic planning, the ACCME has engaged in ongoing dialogue with the CME and stakeholder communities to identify a greater range of commendable practices. This January 2016 proposal incorporates feedback to a draft proposal that was circulated in 2014—which received widespread support from the CME community, with about 75% of CME provider survey respondents, representing a range of organizational types and sizes, reporting that the proposed criteria would make Accreditation with Commendation feasible for them.