The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s board of directors recently adopted a new strategic plan the accreditor believes will help it accomplish a trifecta: an improved learning environment, better support for the CME community it serves, and a simpler and better aligned regulatory system. The hope is that the new plan can help overcome persistent challenges, such as clinician burnout, thinking about CME as a way to earn credits rather than as a learning opportunity, and difficulties in getting institutions to sufficiently support their CME departments.
“The objectives of this strategic plan are ambitious, but I have no doubt that together with our staff, leadership, colleagues in the CME community, and our stakeholders across the health system, we can realize our shared vision of leveraging education’s awesome power to improve the quality of care for the patients and communities we serve,” said ACCME President and CEO Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, in the forward to the plan.
The plan, drawn up in consultation with the board and ACCME executive leaders and staff, and with input from a variety of stakeholders, hopes to help ACCME achieve a vision where “clinicians routinely engage in professional self-development to help them practice at the top of their ability; learning environments support high-quality interprofessional clinical care, safety, and professionalism; educators are motivated and engaged; organizations prioritize and resource clinician education; and effective collaborations between stakeholders minimize regulatory burden.”
It outlines six priorities that ACCME believes will help bring that vision to reality:
1. Augment awareness of CME’s value. ACCME plans to articulate, promote, and defend the value of accredited CME to professional leadership at all levels of the healthcare delivery system in the hope that these leaders will, in turn better support their learners, educators, and educational administrators. The benefit, ACCME says, will be the creation of “intellectual fulfillment” and restored “joy in practice,” along with easing administrative burdens, better functioning interprofessional teams, and higher quality, safer patient care.
2. Assure accreditation quality and equivalency. ACCME’s mission is to set and enforce quality and independence standards for CME, and a main focus of its ongoing strategic plan is to continue to ensure accredited providers remain compliant with all ACCME requirements.
3. Accelerate the evolution of CME. ACCME will continue to promote Accreditation with Commendation. This is the highest level of accreditation offered by ACCME, and it provides a framework for how CME providers can demonstrate the value of their work to improving the quality of care in their learner’s practices, and improved outcomes for patients, and possibly even the population overall. As the plan says, “Our commendation criteria are designed to help providers evolve their educational strategy and build their capacity to create longitudinal relationships with learners that meet their needs as individual clinicians, and as members of teams, institutions, and communities.”
4. Assist CME educators. ACCME also wants to continue to shine a bright light on what the accredited CME community is doing to help improve the quality of care provided by its learners. The idea is to continue to help the community learn from and with each other.
5. Advance data systems. Data is a wonderful thing that can help healthcare providers reflect on their learning and manage their various credentialing, licensing, and certification needs. ACCME’s plan includes continuing to find ways to develop a data system that streamlines and simplifies navigating the continuing professional development system while providing a more useful way for clinicians to design an educational plan and populate it with activities that meet their individual needs.
6. Advocate for CME scholarship. More research is needed to help CME providers improve their educational programs. As the plan states, “We have already embraced research by including it as a component of the commendation criteria, and we seek strategies that will encourage providers to engage in scholarship and sharing, and promote the willingness of clinicians to allow their data to be used for scholarly pursuits.”
Download a PDF of the ACCME strategic plan here.