Types of CME Credit

See Also

What is Prescribed credit?

AAFP Prescribed credit is designated for activities that are designed primarily for physicians. Content is directly related to patient care, patient care delivery, or certain nonclinical topics. A family physician who is an AAFP active or life member must be directly involved in the planning of the activity to ensure the content is relevant to the specialty of family medicine.

Can you provide examples of AAFP Prescribed credit?

Examples of AAFP Prescribed credit include:

  • CME activities for which application has been made to the AAFP Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) that have been approved for AAFP Prescribed credit
  • Instruction of health professions learners in formal individual (e.g., preceptorships) or live educational formats
  • Most life support courses (e.g., ALSO, ACLS, ATLS, BLS, NALS, PALS)
  • Publication of original scientific or socioeconomic research pertaining to patient care, or public or community health
  • American Family Physician and Family Practice Management journal quizzes
  • Most activities produced by the AAFP
  • Participation in clinical research studies
  • Peer review of manuscripts for journals listed in Medline
  • Question writing for tests and/or examinations
  • Some point-of-care learning
  • Activities designated as Mainpro-M1 by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)

If the activity I completed is not considered Prescribed credit, how is it recorded?

The activity will be recorded as AAFP Elective credit, typically with a generic title beginning with "Formal Activity."

What is AAFP Elective credit?

Activities not individually approved by the AAFP as AAFP Prescribed credit that have been designated as American Medical Association (AMA) Physician's Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 CreditTM or have been approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) are acceptable as AAFP Elective credit.

Can you provide examples of AAFP Elective credit?

  • Presentation or publication of an original scientific or socioeconomic paper pertaining to medical care at the AAFP, AAFP chapter, or other medical society level
  • Enrichment activities for which proof of completion is not required, (e.g., other medical education experiences and activities, including independent examination preparation and informal self-study activities, such as reading a medical journal); these activities may or may not be documentable
  • Preparation/presentation of scientific exhibits
  • Activities approved for American Medical Association (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 Credit TM
  • Activities approved for American Osteopathic Association (AOA) credit
  • Programs created without family physician input and designed for nonphysician health care professionals, if they have medical education content of interest to family physicians
  • Completion of a family medicine board examination

What is the difference between AAFP Prescribed credit, American Medical Association (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 Credit™, and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) credit?

  • When a CME activity is certified for AAFP Prescribed credit, it means that an application and supporting material were reviewed and approved by the AAFP's Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD). An AAFP active or life member was involved in the development of the activity, and it is directly related to patient care and patient care delivery.
  • When a CME activity is designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, the CME activity is directly or jointly sponsored by CME providers that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) or an authorized state medical society.
  • When a CME activity has AOA credit, it has been approved for credit by the AOA and may not have been reviewed for AAFP Prescribed credit.

Are activities that receive American Medical Association (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 Credit™ or American Osteopathic Association (AOA) credit automatically considered to have AAFP Prescribed credit?

These activities are not automatically considered to have AAFP Prescribed credit. However, activities that have AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and AOA-approved activities are automatically accepted as AAFP Elective credit.

Is AAFP Prescribed credit accepted by other organizations?

AAFP Prescribed credit is accepted by the American Medical Association (AMA) as equivalent to AMA Physician's Recognition Award (PRA) Category 1 Credit™ toward the AMA PRA. Many of the state licensing boards will accept AAFP Prescribed credit from members to meet CME requirements.

I reported CME earlier in the year, and it was designated as AAFP Prescribed credit. Subsequent activities by the same CME provider are designated as AAFP Elective credit. Why?

  • The CME provider may have requested certification for some activities and not others.
  • Some providers choose to seek certification for a series of activities in monthly, quarterly, or yearly increments.

You may contact us anytime at (800) 274-2237, or email us at aafp@aafp.org to inquire about the status of the CME credit, or you may contact the CME provider.

Where can I find AAFP-approved CME opportunities?

What are live activities?

Live activities take place in real time, involve two or more physicians, and provide the opportunity for real-time interaction between learners and faculty. AAFP members are required to obtain a minimum of 25 AAFP Prescribed credits and/or AAFP Elective credits from live learning activities every three years.

Can you provide examples of live activities?

Examples include:

  • Medical seminars or conferences
  • Lecture series
  • Teaching
  • Life support activities (e.g., ACLS, ATLS, BLS, NALS, PALS)
  • Live Internet activities

Can I get CME credit for teaching students?

You may report credit for teaching health professions learners. However, a maximum of 60 AAFP Prescribed credits may be reported during a three-year re-election cycle. Teaching is also considered a live activity.

Can I receive credit for my Advanced Life Support Program?

Yes. The following live activities are eligible for AAFP Prescribed credit:

  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Instructor Essentials
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Recertification
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) Student Course
  • ATLS Student Refresher (1/2 Day)
  • ATLS Student Refresher (1 Day)
  • ATLS Instructor
  • Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS)
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers
  • Basic Life Support Instructor Essentials
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Provider Course
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support Instructor Essentials

What are enduring materials?

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

Examples include:

  • Monographs
  • Videos
  • Newsletters
  • Audiotapes
  • Non-live online activities

What are enrichment activities?

Enrichment credits are for educational activities that are of a professional-enrichment nature, but may or may not be documentable; are not AAFP-approved; or are not produced by an Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)-accredited institution or organization. A maximum of 25 enrichment credits may be used toward your CME requirements in each re-election cycle.

Examples include:

  • Live credits: medical staff meetings, journal club, clinical professional club
  • Individual credits: journal readings and other informal self-study activities, independent examination preparation

Are there any activities that don't qualify for CME credit?

Yes. Some examples include:

  • Activities produced by proprietary entities such as pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, or their agents
  • Activities with a primary purpose of personal enrichment for the physician (e.g., life balance, estate planning, insurance and taxes)
  • Activities which may be educational but are considered part of a physician's professional responsibility, such as time spent in individual quality assurance and peer review activities, community/public educational activities, domestic and international voluntary service, and patient record review when it is not part of a formal quality improvement CME activity
  • Viewing technical or scientific exhibits or attending poster sessions
  • Auditing conferences that are medical staff activities
  • Programs that provide a historical perspective of medicine, unless the program shows relevance to current medical issues
  • A portion of an activity/conference spent on tour
  • Supplemental reading
  • Enduring materials for which the term of approval has expired
  • Activities that teach or promote therapies that are determined by the Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) to be dangerous or proved ineffective

How many credits do I report for taking a family medicine board examination?

Credit may be claimed for certification, recertification, and maintenance of certification through the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Members may self-report this credit up to a limit of 25 AAFP Elective credits per three-year cycle.

Are there maximum credit allowances for certain CME activities during the three-year re-election cycle?


  • Enrichment: limited to 25 AAFP Elective credits
  • Published research: limited to 45 AAFP Prescribed credits (15 AAFP Prescribed credits per paper)
  • Presentation or publication of a paper: limited to 30 AAFP Elective credits (10 AAFP Elective credits per paper)
  • Preparation and presentation of a scientific medical exhibit: limited to 15 AAFP Elective credits
  • Clinical research studies: limited to 30 AAFP Prescribed credits
  • Teaching health professions: limited to 60 AAFP Prescribed credits
  • Peer review of journal manuscripts: limited to 45 AAFP Prescribed credits (3 credits per manuscript)
  • Writing test questions: limited to 30 AAFP Prescribed credits
  • Advanced training: limited to 25 AAFP Prescribed credits
  • Taking board exam: limited to 25 AAFP Elective credits
  • Medical writing: limited to 30 AAFP Elective credits

What is evidence-based CME?

Evidence-based CME is clinical content presented with key practice recommendations supported by evidence that has been systematically reviewed by an approved source.