FAQs on CME

Is Geisinger Commonwealth an accredited provider of continuing medical education (CME)?

Yes. Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine has been surveyed by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and awarded accreditation with commendation for four years as a provider of continuing medical education for physicians.

What is CME?

Continuing medical education (CME) consists of educational activities that serve to maintain, develop or increase the knowledge, skills and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services to patients, the public or the profession. The content of CME is that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine and the provision of health care to the public.

Why is CME important?

Quality CME can enhance a physician’s knowledge base and practice skills. CME credit is mandatory in many states, including Pennsylvania, for medical relicensure.

What are the essentials in CME (as defined by the ACCME)?

The essentials are the criteria, or standards, by which Geisinger Commonwealth (the accredited sponsor) and its CME program are evaluated in order to determine qualification for accreditation. Please refer to the ACCME for more information.

What information is needed to begin planning a CME activity?

The initial planning meeting with the office of CME involves a review of the ACCME essential areas, elements and standards. The required educational processes include:

  • Identification of the potential target audience
  • Documentation of how the learning needs of the target audience were determined
  • Defining learning objectives that meet the educational need
  • Identify faculty/staff who can serve on a planning committee or as faculty for the activity
  • Potential financial resources to support development and implementation of the activity
  • Strategies for determining activity effectiveness in improving physician competence, performance and/or patient outcomes

What are the requirements for licensure in the state of Pennsylvania?

MD licensure

The Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine regulations state that to renew a medical license, a physician will need:

  • 100 total credit hours of CME in the two-year license cycle (with license cycles ending on Dec. 31 of each even year)
  • A minimum of 20 of the total credit hours in AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
  • 12 credit hours in the areas of patient safety or risk management (either AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ or AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™) 

DO licensure

The Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine has required CME for licensure for the past several years. With the passage of Act 13, the Osteopathic Board has been commissioned to include a patient safety/risk management component in addition to the current requirements.

The regulations state that, to renew an osteopathic medical license, a physician will need:

  • 100 total credit hours of CME in the two-year license cycle (with license cycles ending on October 31 of each even year)
  • A minimum of 20 of the total credit hours in AOA Category 1-A
  • 12 credit hours in the areas of patient safety or risk management (either AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ or AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™)

What is the difference between AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™?

AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ are defined by the American Medical Association (AMA).

AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ activities are those that have been approved by an accredited provider. You will know an activity is AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ because all of the promotional materials will contain a statement similar to the following:

“The [name of accredited CME provider] designates this [learning format] for a maximum of [number of credits] AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.”

Note: An exception to the designation statement requirement is a “save the date” announcement. Such announcements may indicate that AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ will be provided without stating an exact amount, but only if the provider has already certified the activity for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. A “save the date” announcement may read, “This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.”

Providers may never publish or announce that “AMA PRA credit has been applied for,” nor may they use “TBD” or “to be determined” in place of the designated number of credits.

Your CME certificate will also state that the activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and name the institution or organization that is awarding the credit.

AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ hours consist of self-directed learning or courses that have not been through a formal approval process.

The following are some common examples of AMA PRA Category 2 Credit™ activities:

  • Reading authoritative medical literature
  • Teaching physicians, residents, medical students or other health professionals
  • Research projects
  • Consultations with peers and medical experts
  • Unstructured online searching and learning
  • Small group discussions
  • Self assessment activities
  • Medical writing
  • Preceptorship participation
  • Research
  • Peer review and quality assurance participation

For more information, visit the AMA’s website.

Can ACCME providers award AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to faculty who present?

Yes. According to the AMA, “Accredited CME providers may award AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to their physician faculty to recognize the learning associated with the preparation and teaching of an original presentation at the accredited CME provider’s live activities that are certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.” For more information, visit the AMA website.

How many credit hours need to be in patient safety or risk management for relicensing purposes?

Every two years, 12 credit hours are needed in patient safety or risk management.

Do the patient safety or risk management credit hours need to be in Category 1 or Category 2?

According to the regulations, the patient safety or risk management credit hours can be in either Category 1 or Category 2.

How do I know if a CME activity is patient safety or risk management?

The following list of topics that will satisfy the patient safety/risk management requirement:

  • Improving medical records and record keeping
  • Reducing medical errors
  • Professional conduct and ethics
  • Improving communication among physicians and with other health care personnel
  • Communication between physicians and patients
  • Preventive medicine education
  • Health care quality improvement

As long as the CME activity falls within these topics, you can count it toward the patient safety/risk management requirement. Please note that the course does not have to state, and very likely may not, that it is a patient safety or risk management course.

When do I contact the Office of CME to begin planning a program?

Geisinger Commonwealth’s office of CME must be contacted at the beginning of program planning. Many educational, financial and logistical planning elements require substantial advance planning for optimum results. This lead time provides you the time to work with the Office of CME to ensure success of the CME activity from an educational and fiscal perspective. The office of CME requires that all required paperwork and additional documentation must be received no less than two months prior to the program. Any activity planned without the knowledge or involvement of the office of CME cannot be accredited.

What is the difference between direct providership and joint providership of CME activities?

A directly provided activity is one that is planned, implemented and evaluated by the accredited provider (Geisinger Commonwealth). A jointly provided activity is one that is planned, implemented and evaluated by the accredited provider and a non-accredited entity. For more information, visit ACCME’s website.

Do I need to complete an application to receive credit?

Yes. A complete application for credit must be filed for all prospective CME activities.

Does my application need to be approved?

All applications are formally reviewed and approved/disapproved by the office of CME and members of the CME committee.

Can I advertise credit for my program prior to approval of my application?

No. You may not make any mention of credit in any promotional piece unless the activity has already been approved for credit. You may, however, advertise your activity in advance of approval if you do not mention credit.

The AMA and ACCME require that the final announcement for any activity must clearly advertise the credit and include the required ACCME statement. Please contact the office of CME for this information prior to printing or sending any announcement mentioning credit.

Does a CME staff member need to attend the course?

The office of CME requires that a member of its staff or designee be present at any sponsored off-site activity.

What is disclosure?

By requiring each and every speaker and planner to disclose their relevant financial interests in any commercial interest, it enables us to identify and resolve potential conflicts of interest prior to the activity. All disclosures must also be communicated to your participants prior to the activity starting.

Can I solicit funding from outside sources?

You may solicit unrestricted educational grants from any donor. No speakers are to be paid or reimbursed for expenses directly by a donor/commercial supporter. Every donor/commercial supporter must complete a Commercial Support Agreement form. Both the accredited provider and program requestor must sign the Commercial Support Agreement form. A copy of the Commercial Support Agreement form must be provided to the office of CME prior to your program. Please contact the office of CME for this form.

Are there guidelines for creating enduring materials?

Yes. Enduring materials are printed, audio, video or electronic activities, including internet, computer-assisted instruction and broadcast activities. For the complete regulations, please visit the Enduring Materials webpage.