Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More About Developing CME Materials

I'm planning a new course for medical writers who want to learn how to develop CME material. Hopefully, we will release it soon. For now, here's an article from a guest blogger that explains why physicians need CMEs.

How Can Continuing Medical Education Credits Be Obtained?
by Li Ming Wong (Guest blogger)

While physicians spend many, many years in school prior to receiving their MD, it is impossible for them to learn everything there is to know. The medical field is simply too vast, and it is constantly in motion; therefore, it is important that every physician complete continuing medical education. Continuing medical education (CME) allows a physician to stay abreast of new discoveries, treatments, and other advancements in their chosen field.

What worked thirty years ago is not usually the method of choice for today's physicians, and clinicians who do not complete these continuing education credits may often be placing their patients at risk because of a lack of knowledge of treatments that have been deemed ineffective or hazardous. Unfortunately, often when a physician is wrong it is the patient's life that pays the price.

Due to this, every physician is required to complete a minimum number of CME credits every year; however, they are certainly not required to stop once that number is met. This does not necessarily mean returning to school, although this is certainly an option; however, for most physicians caring for their patients leaves them little time for the heavy workload of a secondary education institution. Many other more convenient options are available to them.

Across the nation hundreds of thousands of medical conventions, symposiums, workshops and conferences are available to healthcare professionals, covering topics from new surgical techniques to treat collapsed heart valves to the use of stem cells to treat congestive heart failure; all cutting edge technology not yet taught in the classroom. These often take place over the course of a weekend, often last more than one day and are held in various locations, so physicians from any location in the country may attend at their discretion. In many rural areas there is only one doctor available, often with no one to see to their patients when they are unavailable. These are the physicians who are still on call twenty four hours a day, make their own hospital rounds and see patients from birth to death for everything from a toothache to a heart attack. Needless to say they are often unable to get away from their practice to attend weekend workshops.

Another option is available for them so they can continue to provide their patients with around the clock care. The internet has opened up a whole new world to the field of continuing education.

Many organizations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association for Continuing Medical Education (AACME) offer resources online for healthcare workers to complete their continuing medical education credits. Here clinicians will have the opportunity to complete coursework online, view online conferences and use the teleweb to attend lectures and symposiums.

These CME resources may be found free of charge or for a small fee per credit hour, depending on the situation; however, this is infinitely less expensive (and time consuming) than returning to a college or university, and offer greater benefits because attendees are able to stay apprised of new research and untried methods that are not taught to students. It is true that no one ever stops learning, and this is especially true in the medical field.

Continuing medical education allows clinicians to stay on top of their field and provide the best, most advanced care options available to their patients.

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