AAFP Credit System

AAFP Credit Activity Types

CME providers may apply for AAFP credit for activities that are relevant to family medicine because they help family physicians improve patient care; improve the family physician's professional ability; and demonstrate high educational, ethical, and medical standards. Such activities may include:

Live Activities

Live activities involve two or more physicians in “real time” and allow for interaction among participating physicians. A single live activity, such as a conference, occurs once over one or more consecutive days, but does not repeat content and is continuous. The term of approval for a single live activity is the same as the activity’s dates.

Live activities also include regularly scheduled series, multi-site/multi-date activities, and training programs.

Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) Study Group

Facilitated by expert faculty, learners come together to complete the Knowledge Self-Assessment by working through 60 core competency questions by assessing, reviewing, and deciding as a group the best answer.

CME provider organizations hosting live KSA study groups must be ABFM-approved providers to be eligible to apply for CME credit. Retroactive credit is not available. Only future-dated KSA study group offerings will be considered for CME credit.

Find Answers to KSA-Related Questions >>

Scientific Exhibits and Posters

Scientific exhibits and scientific poster sessions are eligible for CME credit when authors are available for interaction with learners during one or more designated times during the course of a live CME activity.

To be eligible for CME credit, you must include the following information when completing the AAFP application:

  • List of the session(s) on the agenda
  • Title for each exhibit session/poster
  • Authors names of the exhibit session/poster
  • Length of time that the author is available to interact with learners

This type of activity is eligible for up to two credits per day of a live CME activity. Additionally, the CME provider organization may be asked to submit learning objectives for any exhibit/poster for which staff need more information.

Training Programs

A training program is a comprehensive activity designed for practicing physicians to upgrade knowledge that leads to skilled behavior in specific areas. Training activities are eligible for a one-year term of approval. Training programs certified by the AAFP Credit System may be awarded up to a maximum of 150 CME credits.

Procedural Training Skills

The Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) established the following criteria for CME activities that teach procedural skills. In the AAFP’s opinion, the criteria must be met by any activity intended to give learners the ability to independently perform a procedure or to prepare learners for preceptoring/proctoring.

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  1. Indications for the procedure
  2. Contraindications for the procedure
  3. Complications
  4. Informed consent/patient counseling
  5. Patient preparation/education
  6. Anesthesia, analgesia, sedation (as appropriate)
  7. Equipment selection
  8. Cleaning, disinfection, maintenance, and, where appropriate, sterilization of equipment
  9. Patient positioning
  10. Technique (including an opportunity for learners to develop psychomotor skills models, simulators, etc.)
  11. Pathology recognition
  12. Management of complications
  13. Practice management aspects
  14. Patient monitoring/resuscitation
  15. Outcome evaluation

In addition to the above, the trainee should be evaluated on: 1) cognitive knowledge, 2) psychomotor skills/technique, and 3) visual recognition of pathology, if appropriate.

The activity instructor(s) should have significant personal experience in performing the procedure(s) being taught and should be capable of teaching the procedure(s).

If the objective of a procedural skills CME activity is to inform and educate, but not to provide an in-depth level of skill, these criteria are not an essential part of the activity.

Series Activities

Series activities are a preplanned set of regularly scheduled (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly) conferences that occur at one location/institution during a one-year period. The conferences offer different topics related to a unifying theme under an umbrella title (e.g., Family Medicine Grand Rounds, Tumor Boards, Issues in Primary Care). The conferences may not exceed four hours or 3.75 credits. The intended audience remains the same, and a single learner can attend all sessions within the series. Series activities are eligible for a one-year term of approval.

Only one series application is required per year. The application should include the following information:

  1. Series title (example: St. Luke's 2016 Grand Rounds)
  2. Series begin and end dates (example: January 3 - December 18, 2016)
  3. Day of the week or month on which the activity will be held (if consistent)
  4. Anticipated maximum number of CME credits offered per year (e.g., weekly one-hour conferences of 1 credit each = 52 credits)
  5. Specific session titles, learning objectives, speakers, and begin/end times
  6. List of all activity dates that have been confirmed at the time of submission

At least one session must be entered in order to receive approval of the application overall. However, the remainder of the sessions must be entered, as the information becomes available, in order to gain approval for each session. CME providers may add this information by logging into the CME Provider Dashboard online.

Multi-Site/Multi-Date Activities

Multi-site/multi-date activities are live activities that are presented at multiple sites and/or on multiple dates throughout a one-year period. The length and the educational content must remain the same for each session. Multi-site/date activities are eligible for a one-year term of approval.

At least one session must be entered in order to receive approval of the application overall. However, the remainder of the sessions must be entered, as the information becomes available, in order to gain approval for each session. CME providers may add this information by logging into the CME Provider Dashboard online.

Enduring Materials

Enduring materials are activities based on independent learning materials designed primarily as self-study activities.

When submitting an enduring material activity application, the following criteria applies:

  • Audio and video materials will be awarded credit on the basis of actual time it takes a learner to complete the activity.
  • Written materials will be awarded credit based on an average time for learners to read and comprehend the materials.
  • If a formal peer-review process determines the number of requested credits, documentation of the process is required.
  • Activity evaluation.
  • Description of how learners’ participation is verified.
  • Description of how credit was determined.
  • Term of approval is for one year.

Medical Journals

Medical journals are activities based on regularly published collections of articles intended for medical professionals. The participant reads an article; engages in a self-directed phase stipulated by the CME provider that may include reflection, discussion, or debate about the article; and completes a pre-determined set of questions or tasks related to the article content.

When submitting a medical journal activity application, the following criteria applies:

  • The maximum number of credits will be based on the number of eligible articles.
  • Each eligible article will be worth 1 CME credit.
  • Pre-tests, post-tests, and quizzes are not counted toward CME credit.
  • Description of how learners' participation is verified.
  • Term of approval is for one year.

Performance Improvement

Performance Improvement (PI or PI-CME) activities describe structured, long-term processes by which physicians learn about specific performance measures, retrospectively assess their practice, apply performance measures prospectively over a useful interval, and re-evaluate their performance. To award AAFP Prescribed credit for PI activities, CME providers must:

  • Establish an oversight mechanism that assures content integrity of the selected performance measures. These measures must be evidence-based2 and well-designed (e.g., required data elements are clearly specified, data collection is feasible). Performance Improvement activities may address any facet of a physician’s practice that has direct implications for patient care (i.e., structure, process, or outcome).
  • Provide clear instructions to the learner that define the educational process of the PI activity (e.g., documentation, timelines) and establish how the learner can claim credit.
  • Validate the depth of physician participation by a review of submitted PI activity documentation. When requested, supply specific documentation of such credit to participating physicians.
  • Provide adequate background information so that physicians can identify and understand: a) the performance measures that will guide their PI activity, and b) the evidence base for those measures. CME providers may deliver this education through live activities, enduring materials, or other means.
  • Have an AAFP active or life member involved in the planning/review of the overall CME activity to ensure the content’s relevance to the specialty of family medicine.

To develop a complete, structured PI activity, CME providers must ensure that participating physicians integrate all of the following three stages:

Stage A: Learning from current practice performance assessment
Assess current practice using identified performance measures, either through chart reviews or some other appropriate mechanism. Participating physicians should be actively involved in data collection and analysis.

Stage B: Learning from the application of performance improvement to patient care
Implement an intervention based on the performance measures selected in Stage A using suitable tracking tools (e.g., flow sheets). Participating physicians should receive guidance on appropriate parameters for applying an intervention and assessing performance change, specific to the performance measure and the physician’s patient base (e.g., How many patients with a given condition, seen for how long, will produce a valid assessment?).

Stage C: Learning from evaluation of the performance improvement effort

Reevaluate and reflect on performance in practice (Stage B) by comparing to the assessment done in Stage A. Summarize any practice, process, and/or outcome changes that resulted from conducting the PI activity.

When submitting a Performance Improvement activity, the following criteria applies:

  • Activity delivery and participation methods.
  • Description of how credit was determined.
  • Description of how learner participation is verified.
  • Physicians may claim an additional five credits for completing, in sequence, all three stages.
  • A maximum of 20 credits is awarded per activity.
  • Term of approval is for two years.


The AAFP recognizes Point-of-Care CME as practice-based learning that takes place in support of specific patient care. The physician uses a computer-based clinical decision-making support tool at the point of care to ask a clinical question, search evidence-based sources for practice recommendations, and apply a recommendation appropriately to the patient. Even in cases when the evidence-based recommendation is not appropriate for the patient, the physician still learns something in the process.

Because this is relevant, evidence-based CME that meets a physician’s specific learning needs, it is appropriate to award AAFP Prescribed credit for documented Point-of-Care learning activities.

AAFP-approved Point-of-Care CME activities allow learners to claim 0.5 AAFP Prescribed credits for the completion of each three-step process. There must be a mechanism—either from the source or from the CME provider—to document the following elements:

  1. The learner's question
  2. The search of an AAFP-approved source
  3. Implementation of new knowledge into practice

It is not necessary for all three of these elements to be documented at the point of care. For example, if the Point-of-Care source captures the clinical question and the search, the physician may document implementation at a different time (e.g., at the end of the clinic day), or the Point-of-Care CME provider may capture implementation data from the physician as a part of documentation of earned credit.

It is the CME provider's responsibility to ensure that the three parts of the Point-of-Care learning experience are properly documented. AAFP members can claim up to 20 credits per year toward membership re-election.

Point-of-Care CME Activity Approval

Any CME provider is eligible to use a point-of-care source to provide point-of-care CME activities and apply to the AAFP for credit. The CME provider must submit an online application.

The CME provider must do the following:

  1. Ensure the CME properly documents the three required elements of the point-of-care learning activity (i.e., the clinical question, the search history, and the implementation in practice)
  2. Involve an AAFP active or life member in the planning/review of the overall activity. The CME activity must have an AAFP active or life member directly involved in the planning of the activity to ensure the content’s relevance to the specialty of family medicine
  3. Provide learners with the AAFP activity number and documentation of completion of the activity (i.e., CME certificate or letter of participation). Note: AAFP Prescribed credit is accepted by the American Medical Association (AMA) as equivalent to AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ toward the AMA Physician's Recognition Award (PRA)
  4. Evaluate the activity
  5. Maintain participation records for one year

Translation to Practice® (t2p)

CME providers may also add a Translation to Practice component to any live, enduring, or medical journal activity using a three-step process that complements CME activities already approved for AAFP Prescribed credit.

Learners will have the opportunity to apply what they learned in the CME activity and document how learned concepts were translated into practice.

The three-step process:

Step 1: Commitment to Change – Learners complete a Commitment to Change statement stating what it is they wish to change in their practice.

Step 2: Implement Change – Learners implement indicated change into practice.

Step 3: Post-Activity Response – Learners evaluate whether the implemented change resulted in improved patient care.

Find More Details About Translation to Practice® (t2p) >>

Blended Learning

This activity type will be available in Fall 2017.

Blended learning is a single educational activity designed for the same learner(s) that is delivered via multiple formats. Blended learning activities are delivered in two or more of the following formats:

  • Live Courses
  • Enduring Materials
  • Medical Journals
  • Performance Improvement
  • Point-of-Care

Repurposed content, such as a live course archived into an enduring material, will not be eligible under this activity type.

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Contact the AAFP Credit System

(800) 274-2237