Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekly Whine: CMEs

For those of you early in your training or not in medicine at all, CME stands for Continuing Medical Education. Basically, you have to earn a certain number of CME credits each year (each credit = 1 hour) in order to maintain your medical license.

The number of yearly CMEs you need varies from state to state. Some loser states, like Wyoming, only require 20 per year. (Just kidding, Wyoming! You're not really a state.) Other more awesome states like mine require up to 50 CME credits per year (in my case, it can be averaged over three years). Some states have crazy requirements for the CMEs, like you have to take 20 credits while, like, balanced on your head.

Now I do appreciate the importance of continuing medical education. I just don't see the importance of CMEs. I think it's important for doctors to constantly be reading and learning, but I question whether CMEs really contribute to learning. Here's why I think so:

1) I think you learn best when you read about something right after you see it. Seen a case of Klinefelter's Syndrome? Read about it! But you might not necessarily find something that gives you a CME for doing that, so instead you have to read about, like, Turner's Syndrome. Which is totally different.

2) CME courses are rough. I don't know about you people, but after being out of a classroom setting for close to ten years now, I find it very hard to sit in a lecture hall for eight hours straight several days in a row. By the end, it's less about Pain Management and more about Words with Friends.

3) It's WAY too tempting to cheat on online CMEs. Just sayin'.

4) I think I read a study somewhere that said CMEs don't contribute to doctor knowledge.

But I guess if we got rid of CMEs, there would be a very real risk that older doctors would be running around, trying to cure pneumonia with leeches or something, so I guess CMEs are here to stay.


  1. I think most lawyers would say the same about CLE. At least, I would.

  2. Wouldn't CMEs for doctors also be expensive?

    I have to only do 20 CEUs for nursing, however, for my paramedic license I am required to have 144. Also, that doesn't include all the certifications: ACLS, PALS, TNCC, BLS, PHTLS, etc.
    It adds up!

  3. Damn puppies think they know everything!
    Leeches always worked just fine for me. Great for rebalancing the humors.
    Next thing you know he'll be suggesting we stop purging.

  4. Do you get CME money from work?

    You could use that to go somewhere, right?

    1. Yeah, I get CME funds from work. But traveling ends up being a nightmare of childcare coverage.

  5. I love CME. I usually plan to go with a few of my friends, so I'll have company. We share our notes if it's a large conference and there are multiple lectures from which to choose. Maybe we're nerds, but I don't care. Even if CME weren't required I'd almost certainly still attend.

  6. It is insanely easy to get CME. Almost any journal you read has some in it. You just have to send it in. Also, you get CME anytime you look up something on UpToDate(say klienfelters for example) and it even tracks it for you. And almost every travel CME I have ever done was 4-5 hrs/day in the AM with afternoon and evening off in a vacation location.

  7. Still a lot of leech-heavy practices out there.

    CME may be one of those things that you just have to improve a little bit at a time.

    It might be nice to go back to the days when doctors were understood to know everything important, but although I might like those rules for myself, I wouldn't want them for the people taking care of me and my family.