Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I/we get an activity accredited by Howard University, Office of Continuing Medical Education?
A:
For external activities, contact the administrator (202- 806-5622) with your plans at the beginning of the planning (by no later than seven months) [preferably one year] prior to the activity; before anything is printed; by June 1 annually for Regularly Scheduled Series (RSS). See Planning Guides.

Q: When should I begin planning for an accredited CME activity and what should I do first?
A: Start planning one year in advance. The activity must be based on an identified gap in competence, performance or patient outcomes. You will need to follow established planning guides (steps) and complete related documents. See Planning Guides.

The following Q&As draw on materials available at ACCME.org/askaccme

Q: What is the difference between Direct Sponsorship, Joint Sponsorship and Co-sponsorship?
A: Direct Sponsorship occurs when departments/centers within the College of Medicine and Hospital, Howard University, offer a CME activity in cooperation with the Office of Continuing Medical Education. Joint Sponsorship occurs when an ACCME-accredited provider (Howard University College of Medicine and Hospital, Office of Continuing Medical Education) plans and presents one or more activities with non-ACCME accredited providers. Specific to jointly sponsored activities, the accredited provider must inform the learner of the joint sponsorship relationship through the use of the appropriate accreditation statement at www.accme.org. A commercial interest, defined as any proprietary entity producing health care goods or services, with the exception of non-profit or government organizations and non-health care related companies, cannot take the role of non-accredited partner in a joint sponsorship relationship. View ACCME policies at www.accme.org. Co-sponsorship occurs when two or more accredited groups work together in offering a CME activity. Only one group takes responsibility for accreditation of the activity.

Q: What content is acceptable for CME?
A:
ACCME accredited providers must provide CME that contains content which falls within the definition of CME. The content of such CME must not promote recommendations, treatment or manners of practicing medicine that are known to have risks or dangers that outweigh the benefits, or are known to be ineffective in the treatment of patients. Note that an organization whose program of CME is devoted to advocacy of unscientific modalities of diagnosis or therapy is not eligible to apply for ACCME accreditation.ACCME’s definition of CME describes what content is acceptable for activities that are certified for credit: Continuing medical education consists of educational activities which serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession. The content of CME is that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine, and the provision of health care to the public.

Q: Do I have to include the accreditation statement on a "save-the-date" card?
A:
No. Typically these cards contain only initial, preliminary information like the activity date and location. If more specific information is included, such as faculty and objectives, the accreditation statement must be included.Q: Who can answer questions about nursing accreditation?
A: The American Nurses Credentialing Center can be reached at http://www.ana.org/ancc.

Q: Who can answer questions about pharmacy accreditation?
A: The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education can be reached at 312-664-3575, or http://www.acpe-accredit.org.

Q: Who can answer questions about accreditation for family physicians?
A: The American Academy of Family Physicians can be reached at 1-800-274-2237 ext. 6542, or cmeaccredit@aafp.org.Q: What is an enduring material?
A: An enduring material is a non-live CME activity that "endures" over time. It is most typically a videotape, monograph, or CD Rom. Enduring materials can also be delivered via the Internet. The learning experience by the physician can take place at any time in any place, rather than only at one time, one place, like a live CME activity. There are special provider-to-learner communication requirements for enduring materials because of the nature of the activity. Because there is no direct interaction between the provider and/or faculty and the learner, the provider must ensure that specific information, relative to the activity, is communicated to the learner prior to the learner's participation in the activity.

Q: If a live activity is turned into an enduring material is it considered two separate activities?
A: Yes, if educational material from a live activity is turned into an enduring material, the enduring material is considered a separate activity for which the provider must be able to demonstrate compliance with ACCME requirements.

Q: If a live activity is turned into an enduring material, do faculty disclosure and acknowledgement of commercial support still need to be made?
A: The enduring material, the new CME activity, must demonstrate compliance with all applicable ACCME requirements, including faculty disclosure and acknowledgement of any commercial support. For more information, see ACCME’s policies regarding Enduring Materials.

Q: Must a release date, date of last review, and expiration date be included on enduring material? How long is an enduring material "good for?
A: ACCME policy on enduring materials requires both an original release date and an expiration date. In addition, ACCME policy requires that each enduring material is reviewed at least once every three years or more frequently if indicated by new scientific developments. The enduring material cannot be certified for credit for more than three years without some review on the part of the provider to ensure that the content is still up-to-date and accurate. For more information, see ACCME’s policies regarding Enduring Materials.

Q: Are there any special policies for Internet CME?
A: Yes. The ACCME released policies specific to Internet CME in early 2002. Please click here to view these policies.Live or enduring material activities that are provided via the Internet are considered to be “Internet CME.” Internet CME must comply with all ACCME Essential Areas and Elements (including the Standards for Commercial Support) and Accreditation Policies.

Q: Are there any special policies for journal CME?
A: Yes. View ACCME’s policy regarding journal CME. In addition, Journal CME activities are expected to comply with all ACCME Accreditation Requirements for CME activities.

Q: Can I have an advertisement in a journal article that is part of a journal-based CME activity?
A: No. In any journal-based CME activity, the learner should not encounter advertising within the pages of the article(s) or within the pages of the related questions or evaluation materials.A journal-based CME activity includes the reading of an article (or adapted formats for special needs), a provider stipulated/learner directed phase (that may include reflection, discussion, or debate about the material contained in the article(s)) and a requirement for the completion by the learner of a pre-determined set of questions or tasks relating to the content of the material as part of the learning process. The educational content of journal CME must be within the ACCME's Definition of CME. Journal CME activities must comply with all ACCME Essential Areas and Elements (including the Standards for Commercial Support) and Accreditation Policies. Because of the nature of the activity, there are two additional requirements that journal CME must meet:

  1. The ACCME does not consider a journal-based CME activity to have been completed until the learner documents participation in that activity to the provider.
  2. The learner should not encounter advertising within the pages of the article or within the pages of the related questions or evaluation materials.

Q: Can only physicians be faculty at a CME activity?
A: No. Non-physicians can be faculty at a CME activity.

Q: What must be included on the brochure:
A: The accreditation statement must appear on all CME activity materials and brochures distributed by accredited organizations, except that the accreditation statement does not need to be included on initial, save-the-date type activity announcements. Such announcements contain only general, preliminary information about the activity like the date, location, and title. If more specific information is included, like faculty and objectives, the accreditation statement must be included. The ACCME accreditation statement is as follows: For directly sponsored activities: “The (name of accredited provider) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.” For jointly sponsored activities: “This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of (name of accredited provider) and (name of non-accredited provider). The (name of accredited provider) is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.”

Q: Is it inappropriate to ask industry for suggestions regarding topics for CME sessions? Is it unacceptable to ask industry for ideas for speakers or topics?
A:
No, the ACCME Updated Standards do not prohibit asking about topics or speakers. Providers may seek information about what would constitute a good activity from many sources – including commercial supporters. However the provider is required to make independent decisions about how this information is used.

Q: Is the following scenario allowed?...A CME provider is hired by a drug company to run an event where a doctor (hired by the same drug company) would present a CME seminar, talk, or author a CME paper.
A: This should not occur. There is a requirement that the provider ensure that critical elements of activity planning be done independently of a commercial interest. The accredited provider is not ‘hired’ but rather receives commercial support. The teacher or author must be selected and paid by the accredited provider. No funds can go directly from the commercial supporter to the teacher/author.

Q: Why are commercial interests not allowed to act as joint sponsors?
A: Joint sponsors are educational partners and are expected to routinely have a role in making decisions about the elements of activity planning independently of a commercial interest.

Q: What financial relationships need to be disclosed to the accredited provider?
A:
Individuals need to disclose relationships with a commercial interest if both (a) the relationship is financial and occurred within the past 12 months and (b) the individual has the opportunity to affect the content of CME about the products or services of that commercial interest.

Q: What are financial relationships?
A:
Financial relationships are those relationships in which the individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit. ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Q: When do relationships create ‘conflicts of interest?’
A: The ACCME considers financial relationships to create actual conflicts of interest in CME when individuals have both a financial relationship with a commercial interest and the opportunity to affect the content of CME about the products or services of that commercial interest.

Q: Where is the ‘conflict?’
A:
When the provider’s interests are aligned with those of a commercial interest the interests of the provider are in ‘conflict’ with the interests of the public. The interests of the people controlling CME must always be aligned with what is in the best interests of the public.

Q: How do these circumstances create a conflict of interest? (SCS 2.1)
A: The potential for increasing the value of the financial relationship with the commercial interest creates an incentive to influence the content of the CME – an incentive to insert commercial bias. Commercial bias is prohibited in CME.

Q: Do we need committee members to sign a disclosure statement at every meeting while planning the same activity?
A: No. Disclosing the same information repeatedly to the same Provider is not necessary. With the original disclosure information, the Provider is able to implement its mechanism to resolve any conflicts of interest.

Q: What if a person is appointed to speak at the last minute and when the person arrives at the activity he/she refuses to disclose relationship information?
A: You must not carry on with the activity under these circumstances. The person cannot participate if they refuse to disclose because conflicts of interest can neither be identified nor resolved.

Q: If disclosure information cannot be analyzed in a timely fashion, is it appropriate for the activity or presentation to go on without formal CME credit? (SCS 2.3)
A: ACCME has never recommended withholding CME credit at the last minute as an alternative to producing CME that is in compliance with accreditation requirements. It does not seem fair to the physician learners. Assuming that in this scenario there is financial relationship information to disclose to the learners, a mechanism to resolve conflicts of interest could still be put in place.