Healthcare has always been a collaborative field. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) from all different eras have found ways to educate, converse with, and challenge each other in order to advance knowledge and understanding in their fields and to improve patient outcomes.
Imagine what isolating challenges the lack of technology and scarcity of educational resources must have posed to doctors, nurses, and scientists throughout history. Today, technology delivers information so quickly and with so much content that one can’t possibly digest it all. In the little time they have available to them, which sources, topics, and articles are most relevant to HCPs’ work? Which are reputable? Which are truly worth the time?
Here, we explore the aspects of continuing medical education (CME) that HCPs state they value the most and look at what to consider when choosing a CME provider.
A small-scale survey by MedThink SciCom reported that most of their responding physicians found the selection of CME challenging. Not surprisingly, the major contributing factor to this challenge was their lack of time. An enormous amount of content is introduced to the field every year—more than 400,000 manuscripts were published by Elsevier alone in 2015. As a result, many clinicians fall behind or are constantly seeking information as needed. Nearly all respondents to this study admitted that they do not typically read any scientific article in its entirety, but instead focus on a few sections that summarize the conclusions of the paper.
Certified medical education eases this issue by providing high quality, nonbiased, and balanced information. A CME provider can personalize the education and take the task of finding and vetting sources off of the professional’s to-do list, freeing up time to learn and practice.
Reputable Sources of Information
Choosing a trusted provider is key. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) is the main accrediting body for CME providers. An accredited provider must meet the rigorous criteria that the ACCME has set in order to ensure that the content meets the highest standards.
Healthcare professionals are no strangers to the topic of ethics and the potential of financial bias in various choices they make throughout their duties. Certified medical education ensures that the content is not influenced by financial obligations and all sources of funding are disclosed. This takes the stress off the clinician, freeing them up to absorb information, discuss it with colleagues, and implement the new knowledge into practice.
In assessing the content of a CME program, the following items should be considered:
- Medical education should be for medical professionals, by medical professionals. Healthcare professionals should recognize members of the faculty as top experts in their fields.
- Topics should cover new information on techniques, practices, and findings in the field.
- There should be clear take-away points that can be implemented into practice.
- Content should be fair, balanced, and unbiased.
- Publications relied upon for CME activities should come from peer-reviewed, scientific sources.
- The content should be the most current evidence-based information available.
Today, clinicians can choose from multiple formats depending upon their preferences and needs. Live, online, and print programs each have value and offer the learner different experiences. Healthcare professionals can choose what is most relevant, convenient, and timely for them.
The plethora of content and sheer volume of information flooding the field, however, is too high for busy professionals to wade through themselves. Consider, especially, the time and resources needed to filter sources and content for quality, relevance, and financial bias. Certified medical education offers the practicing HCP the advantage of the right content, in the right format, at the right time.