ACCME 21st Century Milestones

Since its founding in 1981, the ACCME has been committed to continuously improving the quality, integrity, and independence of CME in the United States. During the last decade, the ACCME has taken the following steps to promote a high level of educational excellence and independence in continuing medical education.

2002: Clinical Content Validation Policy

The ACCME protects the scientific integrity of CME content: To ensure that patient care recommendations are based on scientific evidence, the ACCME issued policy regarding clinical content validation in CME activities.

  • All recommendations involving clinical medicine in CME activities must be based on evidence that is accepted within the profession of medicine.
  • All scientific research used to support patient care recommendations must conform to generally accepted standards of experimental design, data connection and analysis.
  • Providers are ineligible for ACCME accreditation or reaccreditation if their activities promote treatments that are known to have risks or dangers that outweigh the benefits or are known to be ineffective in patient treatment.

View the ACCME’s Clinical Content Validation Policy in its entirety.

2004: Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities

The ACCME safeguards CME’s independence and freedom from commercial bias:  Building on guidelines first issued in 1992, the 2004 Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities impose stringent restrictions on CME providers’ interactions with drug /device companies and other companies the ACCME defines as commercial interests. The ACCME allows providers to accept company funding for CME activities, but prohibits any commercial influence, direct or indirect, over CME content.

  • All those involved in the development and presentation of CME activities must disclose relevant financial relationships with commercial interests.
  • CME planners, providers and faculty who refuse to disclose financial relationships are disqualified from planning or teaching CME activities.
  • Accredited CME providers must implement strategies for identifying and resolving conflicts of interest.

View the full version of the ACCME’s Standards for Commercial SupportSM.

2006: ACCME Accreditation Criteria

The ACCME positions CME as a strategic partner in national initiatives to improve the quality and safety of patient care:  The 2006 ACCME Accreditation Criteria, an update of 1998 requirements, call on accredited providers to offer educational activities that address physicians’ real-world practice needs, whether their scope of practice is in clinical care, research, health care administration, or other areas of medicine.

Accredited CME is now strongly positioned to support US health care quality improvement efforts and to align with emerging continuing professional development systems such as the American Board of Medical Specialties Maintenance of Certification® (MOC) and the Federation of State Medical Boards Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) initiatives, and hospital accreditation requirements such as The Joint Commission standards.

  • CME activities go beyond giving physicians new information—they help doctors translate knowledge into action that improves their performance and patient outcomes.
  • CME providers evaluate the changes in physician competence, performance, or patient outcomes that result from their educational programs.
  • The Accreditation Criteria foster leadership, collaboration and system-wide change by rewarding CME providers with Accreditation with Commendation if (among other requirements) they participate in quality improvement initiatives within their institution or health care system.

View the ACCME Accreditation Criteria in detail.

2009: Accreditation of Continuing Education Planned by the Team for the Team

The ACCME joins with other accrediting organizations to support team-based continuing education:

  • The Institute of Medicine states that health professionals must be trained to work in interdisciplinary teams in order to deliver the highest quality and safest patient care possible (Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality, 2003).
  • In furtherance of that goal, in 2009, the ACCME, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center Accreditation Program built on their long-standing collaboration and launched a joint accreditation process for providers of continuing education for health care teams.
  • To qualify for joint accreditation, continuing education providers must develop education by and for health care teams that aims to improve team performance and patient outcomes.

See more information about the Joint Accreditation Criteria & Policies .

2011: ACCME Supports FDA Prescription Drug Abuse Public Health Initiative

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.
  • Released in April, the White House 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan  and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)  for opioid medications include continuing health care education as a central component to these public health initiatives.
  • The ACCME is honored that the government views accredited CME as a strategic asset to public health and safety initiatives. Guided by its first priority—to promote public health and safety—the ACCME is continuing to work with FDA, drug manufacturers, and accredited providers, to ensure that accredited CME about REMS meets the ACCME’s standards for independence and FDA expectations.

Take a look at ACCME’s FAQs about REMS.

Related Information
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News Release: Continuing Education Accreditors in Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine
ACCME News item: FDA Releases REMS for Extended-Release/Long-Acting Opioids
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CME Clinical Content Validation
ACCME Definition of a Commercial Interest
Accreditation Requirements
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ACCME Annual Report Data