Ambulance respond to an Emergency in downtown
Locums News January 25, 2018

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Emergency Medicine CME: A Practitioner’s Guide

Continuing medical education, or CME, is designed to help emergency physicians maintain their competence, increase their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and stay abreast of new research and information that will help them in their practice of medicine. 

CME courses can range from the latest guidelines in pain management to improving communication skills. Some are specific to emergency practitioners, and some are not. Whatever the subject, the overriding goal is to promote the highest quality medical care for patients and communities.

Emergency physicians know that it’s necessary to earn their emergency medicine CME credits from an accredited source in order to maintain licensure, credentials, board certifications, and even memberships in professional organizations. A current list of accredited CME providers can be found on the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) website.

For instance, ER physicians who are members of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) are required to complete 150 hours of CME every three years in order to maintain their membership. ACEP is a national organization that represents 35,000 emergency physicians, residents, and medical students, with chapters in every state.

Completing certain emergency medicine CMEs can also enhance your employability. In order to work with a staffing company like Locum Leaders, some CME requirements may need to be met in order to be placed in a locum tenens emergency physician assignment

Requirements for CMEs vary by state

The number of general or emergency medicine CME units that you have to complete will vary—as will how frequently you need to renew your medical license—based on where you practice. 

Each state has its own CME requirements, and its own licensing cycle, ranging from one to three years.

In Alabama, for example, physicians must log 25 CMEs every year. Same for Alaska. 

But in states like Georgia, Hawaii, and Delaware, a physician must earn 40 CMEs every two years. And in Illinois, the requirement is 150 CMEs every three years, with three years being the length of the licensing cycle. 

The requirements can even vary by the type of medical license. For example, in California, the licensing cycle is two years long. A physician with an MD must earn 50 CMEs every two years, but DOs must earn 150 every three years. 

Five states do not have any CME requirements for MDs or DOs to maintain licensure:

  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Montana
  • New York
  • South Dakota

[READ how Locum Leaders assists with medical licensing for locum tenens assignments.]

Check with your professional association for requirements

Local or national associations may also require you to complete a certain number of CMEs, even if the state where you live and practice medicine does not. 

The American College of Emergency Physicians notifies its members every three years that they must be compliant with the CME requirements when they renew their memberships. 

ACEP’s CME requirements for active membership include:

  • 150 hours of CME per three-year cycle
  • 60 of those hours must focus specifically on issues relevant to the practice of emergency medicine and qualify as ACEP Category I Credit. 

ACEP Category I Credit refers to the AMA PRA Category 1 Credit that’s been earned through an approved ACCME provider. This could include attendance of an approved live meeting, participation in certain approved Internet activities, and approved enduring materials, which could include podcasts, monographs, DVDs, etc. 

Emergency physicians have a few more options for earning the remaining 90 hours of CME during the three-year cycle. 

According to ACEP, you could earn some additional CMEs that qualify as AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. Or you could earn CME hours that are categorized as AMA PRA Category 2 Credit. Or you can seek out CME credits through the American Osteopathic Association. In this instance, you would need to pursue CME that is classified as AOA Category 1-A, 1-B, 2-A, or 2-B credits. 

READ more about the ACEP Member CME Requirements.  

Don’t forget to keep track

Ultimately, you as the physician are responsible for tracking your CME activity and maintaining updated records so that you can prove that you meet the necessary requirements. Fortunately, some sources now have systems that allow you to track your completed CME hours online, like the ACEP CME Tracker, which also allows you to print your certificate of completion.

Take your next step:

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