Make Education Effective and Relevant

Published Date

An exploration of the ACCME expectation for alignment between educational activities and the professional competencies as defined by CME stakeholders and healthcare leaders, with Dion Richetti, ACCME Vice President for Accreditation & Recognition. This video was produced to be used in conjunction with participation in the Accreditation Workshop.


The wealth of research in adult education helps educators understand of how adults learn and improve over time. This educational literature is the foundation of ACCME’s expectations for accredited CME providers. And, these research insights form the basis of our requirements that guide planning effective CME activities. Two of these expectations are, first that you deliberately choose educational methods that match the impact you would like your educational intervention to have, and second, that you align your educational activities with professional competencies articulated by stakeholders and leaders in medicine and health care.

We know from educational literature that continuing education is effective in changing practice and patient care. We also know that learning and change are optimized when the format that the education takes is matched to the kind of change we, as educators, want to facilitate. As you plan your educational activities, ACCME wants you to ask, “What is the best approach for us to take to drive the kind of change we want this activity to have?” Reading a journal article, or watching a recorded presentation online are great approaches to help individuals gain new knowledge that can inform practice strategies. However, if your educational activity is designed to improve a performance-based skill, such as communicating effectively with team members, you would want to choose a format that allows for interpersonal communication, role-playing, and feedback. Determining the best format is your choice but, we encourage you to use the literature and your peers as your guide. ACCME wants you to serve as an ‘educational consultant’ to help your organization maximize its educational effectiveness.

Competencies are articulated by many stakeholders as a professional standard describing the qualities and abilities physicians and other health professionals should embody. In the house of medicine, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or ACGME, describes six core competencies that all medical residents should achieve as desirable physician attributes. In 2003, the Institute of Medicine published a series of core competencies for health professionals. And in 2011, the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) published core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice. These competencies—and others—describe both the values we want to align our educational efforts with and the content domains that we want to teach. Not only do they inform education, but they also provide a framework for regulatory expectations of physicians and other health professionals. ACCME expects that you connect your educational planning to professional competencies and take advantage of these opportunities for alignment. Many accredited providers tell us that this planning not only helps them identify which competencies they are addressing, but often helps them understand what competency domains are in need of educational support.