The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact with family and friends, conduct business and attend school. Many everyday activities still look very different than they did a year ago. Some people are still working from home, and some students are attending school and trainings remotely. This is no different for physicians and advanced practitioners, many of whom are now only able to complete Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs online. Those who used to prefer participating in live meetings or attending conferences to receive their CME credits have had to adapt and find alternatives. While online or virtual CME courses have long been a viable option for receiving credits, the unusual circumstances of this year have prompted clinicians to further explore all the options they have available to them, and many have discovered some unique opportunities that are both affordable and more accessible.
Benefits of virtual CMEs
The medical industry is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay informed. CME courses allow clinicians to stay up to date on numerous topics: Improving patient care, challenges in the industry, new tools, quality of care, professional growth and more.
Attending live meetings used to require the time and resources necessary for travel. The ability to receive CME credit virtually is a tremendous time and money saver. You can access courses anywhere you have an internet connection without having to take extended time away from your patients or request travel funding.
Resources for finding CMEs
Although there are many unique CME opportunities online, it’s important to start your search by checking which CMEs are required for your licensure and certifications and tackle those first. The Federation of State Medical Boards lists the number of CME credit hours and content requirements by state, so it’s a good place to begin.
NetCE is an excellent resource for physicians and advanced practitioners who are ready to start searching for specific CMEs. It allows you to search by both state and title, and each search automatically pulls up a brief synopsis of your state’s requirements for your profession that you’re able to expand for more detailed information. CME opportunities are broken down into different categories such as community health, ethics, infection management and more to make it easier to receive CME credits based on your interests and what would be most beneficial to your practice.
Each NetCE search also pulls up a category for free CME credit opportunities and special offers. For example, NetCE is offering a free CME credit course relevant to all specialties called “The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic.” It is a two-credit hour course that is updated weekly to ensure physicians and advanced practitioners are receiving the most up-to-date information possible.
Medscape isn’t just an excellent resource for current healthcare articles and survey reports; it’s also an excellent resource for finding free CME credit opportunities. The free CME credit opportunities are broken down by specialty, or you can filter CME results by topic, number of credits, format and type.
Another benefit of Medscape is the site’s activity tracker. It’s a straightforward tool that keeps track of each of the free CME credits you’ve earned through the site as well as your in-progress CMEs. The only caveat is that it’s important to ensure the free CME courses you’ve selected from Medscape will allow you to meet your specific credit requirements.
MyCME is helpful for physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking to gain more in-depth knowledge from their CME courses. The site allows you to view resources by topic and by what’s new on the site, and it also features different series for those looking to learn as much as they can about a certain condition or treatment.
MyCME is also a great option for physicians and advanced practitioners who miss attending live meetings to receive CME credits. You can easily access a list of live, virtual events, many of which offer free CME credits. While participating in these live events online is certainly a much different experience than attending in person, live virtual events are much more accessible. You can enter them from anywhere in the world without the cost or hassle of traveling to a venue.
Hot Topics in CMEs
The COVID-19 pandemic and social justice issues are incredibly relevant to physicians and advanced practitioners in every specialty. For this reason, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has compiled CME opportunities and resources that will help providers ensure they have the most up-to-date information about both of these topics so they can provide their patients with the highest-quality care. The COVID-19 Clinician Resources page offers a myriad of free CME credit opportunities, and the Advancing Social Justice Resources page features trainings on empathy, addressing equity, diversity and inclusion, and more.
It’s imperative for the wellbeing of their patients that physicians and advanced practitioners think beyond simply receiving credits for completing CMEs and make choices that will allow them to be better informed about how every aspect of a patient’s circumstances plays a significant role in their health and wellbeing. By gaining a better understanding of the challenges their patients face, they’re in an ideal position to forge more meaningful connections with them, whether it’s in person at in-office appointments or through a screen during telemedicine appointments.