Professional Development

34 - Anatomy of a CME activity
In any CME-certified activity, you will notice a lot of information provided in promotional materials or before the activity and in other print materials. CME providers are required to provide this information in order to help you determine before participating in a course whether or not it is of interest to you or if it will meet your needs. You are also required to read and understand this information before participating. Therefore, the correct answer to the question is False.From the program overview or course description, learning objectives, target audience, the topics and faculty you should be able to determine if it is relevant to your needs and the quality of the program and faculty. The accreditation and designation statements let you know who planned and developed the activity and according to what standards, as well as how many credits you can obtain. The faculty disclosures and commercial support acknowledgment (information on who is providing the educational grant if there is one) let you know the relationships the faculty, the CME providers and organizers have with commercial entities that may influence the content. There should not be any advertisements, commercial activities or company or brand logos during the educational portion of the activity.If the activity is an enduring material (an online course, CD-ROM, journal, etc.), additional information such as instructions on how to obtain credit, the release and expiration date of the materials, any software or other technical requirements, estimated time to complete the activity and means of contacting the CME provider are given. Enduring materials must also have some mechanism to confirm that you actually participated in the course. A post-test testing you on the material presented in the course is the more common form of doing this, but electronic activities may use other tracking methods to confirm your progress and participation in the course. Most post-tests require that you obtain at least a 70% score in order to receive the certificate.You will also often be asked to complete an evaluation at the end of a course, and this evaluation may be required in order for you to obtain your certificate. Evaluations are important because, as explained earlier, CME providers are required to use this type of information in planning future activities. As such, it also helps you by ensuring that future courses are suited to your needs and interests. The most common form of evaluation is a questionnaire participants complete at the end of an activity, but other and sometimes more effective forms include pre- and post-tests to compare your knowledge before and after the activity, or evaluations and questionnaires sent several weeks or months after the activity to better determine the actual impact the course had on your practice. Upon completing the activity (and, in most cases, passing the post-test and/or completing the evaluation), you will receive a certificate that issues you the corresponding credits. Remember that you must only report the actual hours you spent in the activity. In the U.S., CME providers have to maintain physician records for at least 6 years, so you should always be able to request these records or a transcript whenever you may need them.