What Is ACCME and Why You Should Know About It Before Taking a Course

As an aspiring doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner or physician associate you probably already know how important it is to have a license to practice. Not only does it allow you to work in your field, but it also shows that you have enough knowledge and experience to treat patients.


When you’re looking to take a course in medicine, the last thing you want is to waste time and money on something that won’t help you further your career. That’s why it’s important to know about ACCME (Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education) and how it can be used so you can ensure that the course you plan on taking is worth it.

This article will tell you all you need to know about ACCME, why it’s important for your practice, and more.

What Is ACCME?

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education is an organization that accredits continuing medical education (CME) programs or activities. The goal of its programs is to help healthcare professionals keep their licenses by giving them opportunities to earn continuing education credits (CE).

For colleges, universities and organizations to get their courses reviewed as part of the accreditation process, must send them to the council. The council then decides if the courses meet its quality, content, and difficulty standards. When a course meets those standards, it receives accreditation from the council.

Many students who take a course that is recognized by their college, university or any organization that teaches medical courses receive credit for it. This allows them to finish their degree faster by taking fewer courses overall.

What Is CME and How Does It Work?

Continuing medical education is a type of education that’s required by many regulatory bodies for medical professionals to maintain their licenses. It also helps doctors remain up-to-date on current medical procedures and research.

CME comes in many forms, including online courses and face-to-face training sessions. If you want to get credit for the classes you’ve already taken, you’ll have to show proof that you’ve attended them. 

ACCME is the accrediting body that oversees all CME programs so it’s important to know what it does before taking a course.

If you want to take advantage of CME credits, you’ll need to take a course from an ACCME-accredited provider. The most common types of providers are medical schools, hospitals and any organization that teaches medical courses. 

The most common type of CME is an online course where you complete an exam at the end of it. These exams usually consist of multiple-choice questions about what you’ve learned during your coursework.

Who Needs ACCME Credits?

Any healthcare provider who wants to maintain their license must earn CME credits yearly. This includes doctors, nurse practitioners (NPs),  physician associates (PAs) , pharmacists, and dentists. The number of credits they need depends on their profession but most people need at least 40 hours worth of CME courses every two years. 

Many doctors and other healthcare providers will also want to maintain their board certification. This means they need to earn a certain number of CME credits every year.

This is one way that ACCME keeps physicians up-to-date on the latest medical developments. If you’re a doctor or nurse, it’s important to make sure you keep your credentials up-to-date.

CME Requirements for Medical Professionals 

Regardless of what kind of professional you are—nurse, doctor, pharmacist, or dentist—you’ll need ongoing education to maintain your license in most states. The rules vary depending on which state board sets them.

Many state licensing boards have developed guidelines for CME credit requirements. If you want to know how many credits you need for compliance, it’s best to contact your state or local medical board. There are online sites that can help with this process as well.

ACCME Courses

Each year, ACCME reviews thousands of courses offered by organizations in the United States and Canada. These courses are designed to help physicians and other healthcare professionals maintain their professional statuses through ongoing education.

Below are some examples of ACCME-accredited courses:

Recurring Learning Sessions

These are recurring learning sessions that can be taken at a scheduled pace. They’re usually hosted by a hospital or medical practice and focus on topics like pain management and patient safety.

Performance Improvement Activities (PIA)

These are activities that healthcare professionals can complete on their own time usually by reading articles or watching videos. They help physicians stay up-to-date on the latest medical developments.

Self-Assessment Modules

These modules are made to help healthcare professionals figure out how much more they need to learn to meet ACCME’s requirements for CME credit and evaluate what they already know.

Conference Courses

These live, in-person meetings occur at educational institutions and other locations. They usually start with a keynote speech and include breakout sessions where they can talk about specific topics in smaller groups. The courses also feature Q&A sessions with the speakers.


These live, online meetings provide a similar experience to conference courses. They are often shorter than conference courses and may be offered more frequently.

Online Courses

These are pre-recorded courses that can be viewed at the learner’s convenience. They may have live interactions with teachers or other students but participants don’t have to be at a certain time or place to attend.


As you can see, it’s important to know about ACCME if you’re going to take a course to establish, enrich, and/or continue your practice.

ACCME is a resource that can help you find accredited courses. These are important when the time comes to apply for a medical license. It’s a significant place to start if you’re trying to figure out what kind of courses are right for you.

Before taking any course or exam, make sure that it’s accredited by ACCME. This can easily be done by visiting ACCME’s website, specifically their Find a CME Provider page. Their directory includes around 1,600 organizations and allows you to search for training providers by organization, city, state, and zip code. It’s also possible to filter results based on the type of accreditation you’re looking for. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that the course and its certification are recognized by the industry.


ACCME Acredited Providers: How to Identify Them?

Accredited providers by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) typically display the ACCME logo on their materials, websites, or event announcements. Additionally, you can verify their accreditation status on the ACCME website’s database.

ACCME Guidelines What are They?

ACCME provides guidelines for organizations that offer continuing medical education (CME) activities. These guidelines focus on ensuring the quality and integrity of CME activities and include standards related to content, faculty, educational methods, assessment, and evaluation. ACCME guidelines aim to promote effective and ethical CME practices to enhance physician learning and improve patient care.

CME Accreditation Process

The accreditation process for Continuing Medical Education (CME) involves several steps:

  1. Application: Organizations seeking accreditation submit an application to the accrediting body, such as the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) in the United States.
  2. Self-Study: The organization conducts a self-assessment to evaluate its CME program against the accrediting body’s standards and guidelines.
  3. Documentation: The organization gathers documentation and evidence to support its compliance with accreditation criteria, including information on educational activities, faculty qualifications, evaluation methods, and financial disclosures.
  4. Site Visit (if applicable): Some accrediting bodies may conduct an on-site visit to verify compliance with accreditation standards and provide feedback.
  5. Review Process: Accreditation reviewers assess the organization’s application, self-study report, and supporting documentation to determine compliance with accreditation criteria.
  6. Decision: The accrediting body makes a decision regarding accreditation status based on the review process. This decision may include granting accreditation, requesting additional information or documentation, or denying accreditation.
  7. Accreditation Maintenance: Accredited organizations must adhere to ongoing requirements for maintaining accreditation, such as submitting regular reports, participating in quality improvement activities, and complying with updated accreditation standards.

Overall, the accreditation process aims to ensure that CME activities meet established standards for quality, relevance, and effectiveness in supporting physician learning and improving patient care.

Read all articles in FAST Exam, Medical General

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