AAFP Volunteers, Staff Ensure CME is What You Need

Academy Reviews 5,000 Activities Each Year for Evidence, Relevance

November 08, 2012 05:35 pm "Voices" Staff

The AAFP Scientific Assembly has come and gone for another year. Maybe you missed it. Or maybe you joined us in Philadelphia, earned up to 41 AAFP Prescribed credits but still need more. What will you do now?

[seminar participants]

Every year, the AAFP produces more than 150 CME activities, including Assembly, other live events, and journal and online CME sessions that are designed for family physicians with input from you. These activities are developed using a rigorous process to ensure they are relevant to family medicine, current, evidence-based and free from commercial bias.

But did you know that the AAFP -- the nation's oldest national credit system for CME -- also reviews more than 5,000 activities from roughly 2,500 organizations each year? In fact, the AAFP CME Credit Systems and Compliance Department reviews individual CME activities to ensure they meet the needs of family physicians. Although other CME credit-granting institutions may award CME accreditation to an organization -- which then assigns credit to its own activities -- the AAFP looks at each activity plan submitted by an organization requesting CME credit and determines whether a plan stands on its own, is relevant to family physicians and is worthy of credit.

AAFP staff members, working with direction from the AAFP's Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD), follow criteria created by the COCPD to make sure the CME the AAFP certifies meets the AAFP's guidelines. This includes a review to ensure the CME is relevant to family medicine; developed with input from a family physician; current; evidence-based; compliant with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education Standards for Commercial Support; and developed in line with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Board of Medical Specialties, and Institute of Medicine core competencies.

The family physician volunteers appointed to the COCPD's Subcommittee on Clinical Content and Accreditation (SCCA) are in regular communication with AAFP staff members and offer guidance during the review of AAFP CME credit applications. When a clinical perspective is required or the CME is outside the scope defined by the SCCA, subcommittee members are asked to review the activity and provide AAFP staff members with appropriate direction.

About 10 percent of all applications are reviewed by the SCCA. In addition to the random review of CME activities, other reasons for physician review include activities related to new science, physician wellness, and homeopathic medicine.

Of the applications that are not reviewed by SCCA members during the certification process, 5 percent are audited for compliance following delivery of the CME activity. Furthermore, if you, as an AAFP member, participate in a CME activity certified by the AAFP and you believe that the activity was not in compliance with CME standards -- such as being free from commercial bias -- you can report that activity to the CME credit system department at the AAFP, and the activity will be audited.

Having a strong CME credit system benefits you by ensuring that AAFP-certified CME in which you participate is relevant, addresses your scope of practice and is free from commercial bias. It is just one more service that the AAFP provides for you.