Continuing medical education

Continuing medical education

Medical CME requirements vary by state

Continuing medical education requirements for maintaining your license vary by state. Medscape has compiled and keeps up-to-date a list of medical CME requirements by state at for physicians.

Surprisingly, a few states require no continuing medical education credits. These states (as of Dec. 2009) include Colorado, Indiana, Montana, New York, South Dakota, and Vermont. More typically states require 40-50 credits a year (sometimes grouped by 2 or 3 year periods), with a requirement that a certain fraction be Category 1 credits. Because requirements can change, confirm everything with your state board of medical licensing.

Requirements also vary for M.D. and D.O. doctors.

CME courses by medical specialty

  • Cardiology CME are typically high-level courses that deal with specific cardiac patient populations, new pharmaceutical indications, and interventional procedures. While internists and primary care physicians may find these courses of interest if they have a large patient population with cardiac issues, these courses are typically designed for cardiologists rather than PCPs.
  • Diagnostic radiology CME is now easily done primarily online given the high bandwidths available. However, interventional radiology still requires live courses when procedures are involved. Ultrasound CME, a subset of radiological courses, are usually presented separately.
  • Pediatric CME, like internal medicine courses, deal mostly with primary care issues.
  • Psychopharmacology now dominates the collections in psychiatry CME. To a large extent this reflects the trend in psychiatric practices away from psychotherapy to pharmacological maintenance, and the changing reimbursement schedules for therapy.
  • Initially built as a subset of anesthesiology continuing education, pain management CME courses now comprise a separate category. Some states even require pain management credits to maintain a medical license.

Types of continuing medical education courses

A recent survey by NetDoc reveals what types of continuing medical education courses physicians now use. While 15 years most continuing education courses were either in-hospital lectures or at CME conferences, including CME cruises, times have changed. Now, 82% of physicians get most or all of their credits through online CME courses, with only 11.7% get almost none (or none) of their credits online.