AMA and ACCME Announce Simplification and Alignment of Credit and Accreditation Systems

Collaboration aims to encourage flexibility and innovation in continuing medical education

Chicago, IL

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) today announced they have adopted a final proposal to simplify and align their expectations for accredited continuing medical education (CME) activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

The AMA and ACCME issued a call for comment on the proposed simplification in April. The vast majority of respondents strongly endorsed the proposal and agreed that it would give them sufficient opportunity to innovate and evolve their CME programs. The proposal was adopted by the AMA and ACCME. The organizations are now working together to develop a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and other resources about implementation that will be available this fall.

Reflective of the AMA and ACCME’s shared values, the simplification is designed to encourage innovation and flexibility in accredited CME while continuing to ensure that activities meet education standards and are independent of commercial influence. The simplification is aimed at allowing accredited CME providers to introduce and blend new instructional practices and learning formats that are appropriate to their learners and setting, provided they abide by the AMA’s seven core requirements.

The core requirements are aligned with ACCME accreditation requirements—and do not represent any new rules for accredited providers. In addition, the AMA has simplified and reduced its learning format requirements to provide more flexibility for CME providers. To further encourage innovation in educational design and delivery, CME providers may design and deliver an activity that uses blended or new approaches to driving meaningful learning and change. For these activities, the provider can designate credits on an hour-per-credit basis using their best reasonable estimate of the time required to complete the activity. Additional details about the “Framework for Simplification of Requirements for Accredited CME Activities Certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™” can be found appended to this news release.

“The simplification and alignment will encourage innovation and experimentation in CME, so that educators are free to respond nimbly to their learners’ changing needs while staying true to core principles for educational excellence and independence. We celebrate this collaborative effort with our AMA colleagues and thank our community of accredited CME providers for their high level of engagement in this process. We look forward to our continued work together to drive quality in clinicians’ lifelong learning and improve care for the patients we all serve,” said Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME.

“Recognizing the need to better align the AMA and ACCME’s requirements for CME accreditation and reaccreditation, we believe that our newly adopted proposal will support the evolution of CME to better meet the needs of educators, physicians, and the patients they serve,” said Susan Skochelak, MD, AMA Group Vice President for Medical Education. “We look forward to continuing our work with ACCME on a more streamlined system that benefits providers and patients alike.”

In addition to collaborating on the simplification and alignment, the AMA and ACCME produced a shared glossary of terms and definitions to help clarify terminology for accredited CME providers and learners. The glossary was developed both as part of their alignment efforts and in response to requests from CME providers.

The simplification and alignment was developed by the Bridge Committee, which was formed by the AMA and ACCME to support their collaborative realignment efforts. The committee—made up of staff and volunteers from both organizations—serves in an advisory capacity on issues related to alignment and the evolution of the two complementary systems of credit and accreditation.


More Information

About the AMA

The American Medical Association is the premier national organization providing timely, essential resources to empower physicians, residents and medical students to succeed at every phase of their medical lives. Physicians have entrusted the AMA to advance the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health on behalf of patients for more than 170 years. For more information, visit

About the ACCME

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, responsible for accrediting institutions that offer continuing medical education (CME) and for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors of local CME programs.

The ACCME sets standards for CME that reflect the values of the educator community and aim to accelerate learning, inspire change, and champion improvement in healthcare. These standards ensure that accredited CME is designed to be relevant to clinicians’ needs, evidence-based, evaluated for its effectiveness, and independent of commercial influence. Through participation in accredited CME, clinicians and teams drive improvement in their practice and optimize the care, health, and wellness of their patients.

Accredited CME facilitates engagement with physicians and healthcare teams where they live, learn, and work. There are approximately 1,800 accredited CME providers within the ACCME System, across the country and internationally, representing a range of organizations including medical schools, hospitals/health systems, government/military agencies, specialty societies, and insurance/managed-care companies. Accredited providers offer about 159,000 activities each year, comprising more than one million hours of instruction and including more than 27 million interactions with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

For more information, visit You can also follow the ACCME onTwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Based on feedback from the community and a comprehensive review of the AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM requirements, the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Medical Education and Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) have aligned their expectations for accredited CME activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Reflective of the AMA and ACCME’s shared values, the alignment is designed to encourage innovation and flexibility, while ensuring that activities are independent and educationally appropriate. Accredited CME providers can introduce and blend new instructional practices and formats appropriate to their learners and setting, as long as they abide by the core requirements. CME providers may designate an activity format as “other” if it does not fall into one of the established format categories, without asking permission from the AMA. For these activities, providers can designate credits on an hour-per-credit basis, using their best reasonable estimate of the time required to complete the activity. The ACCME will modify the Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) to enable providers to enter “other” as an activity type.

The alignment contains the following two elements:

A. Core requirements for activities

B. A limited number of format-specific requirements

A. Core Requirements for Activities

Please note: The core requirements are aligned with ACCME requirements and do not represent any new requirements for accredited providers. If providers meet ACCME requirements, they will be deemed to have met the Core Requirements.

  1. The CME activity must conform to the AMA/ACCME definition of CME.
  2. The CME activity must address an educational need (knowledge, competence or performance) that underlies the professional practice gaps of that activity’s learners. 
  3. The CME activity must present content appropriate in depth and scope for the intended physician learners.
  4. When appropriate to the activity and the learners, the accredited provider should communicate the identified educational purpose and/or objectives for the activity, and provide clear instructions on how to successfully complete the activity.
  5. The CME activity must utilize one or more learning methodologies appropriate to the activity’s educational purpose and/or objectives.
  6. The CME activity must provide an assessment of the learner that measures achievement of the educational purpose and/or objective of the activity.
  7. The CME activity must be planned and implemented in accordance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities.

B. Format-specific Requirements 

If the learning modality is an enduring material, journal-based CME, or performance improvement CME, the accredited provider must ensure the following format-specific requirements are met: 

  1. Enduring materials will provide access to appropriate bibliographic sources to allow for further study.
  2. Journal-based CME will include one or more peer-reviewed articles.
  3. Performance improvement CME will:
  • have an oversight mechanism that assures content integrity of the selected performance measures. If appropriate, these measures should be evidence-based and well-designed.
  • provide clear instruction to the physician that defines the educational process of the activity (documentation, timeline).
  • provide adequate background information so that physicians can identify and understand the performance measures that will guide their activity and the evidence behind those measures (if applicable).
  • validate the depth of physician participation by a review of submitted PI CME activity documentation.
  • consist of the following three stages:
    • Stage A: learning from current practice performance assessment. Assess current practice using the identified performance measures, either through chart reviews or some other appropriate mechanism.
    • Stage B: learning from the application of PI to patient care.  Implement the intervention(s) based on the results of the analysis, using suitable tracking tools.  Participating physicians should receive guidance on appropriate parameters for applying the intervention(s).
    • Stage C: learning from the evaluation of the PI CME effort.  Reassess and reflect on performance in practice measured after the implementation of the intervention(s), by comparing to the original assessment and using the same performance measures. Summarize any practice, process and/or outcome changes that resulted from conducting the PI CME activity.