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Clinical Education
Instructional Systems Design (ISD)

"He, who fails to plan, plans to fail." - Proverb

The ACCME Essential Elements and Criteria dictate what has to be accomplished by a CME activity or program; your Instructional System Design (ISD) details how you will achieve these results.

By reviewing a potential partner's ISD, the Academy is able to tell how the pieces of your CME puzzle will come together.

ISD is the method that your organization uses to create content. To assist with planning and documentation, the Academy has provided several templates and timelines, listed below.

Definitions related to ISD
  • Activity: An educational event/intervention for physicians, which is based upon identified needs, has a purpose or objectives, and is evaluated to assure the needs are met.
  • ADDIE / ADDIE Model: The foundation of instructional system design. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate
  • Assessment: A comparative evaluation of, gaps, needs, barriers and resources.
  • Educational Mission: A document required for each joint sponsor, detailing the educational goals of their organization.
  • Gap analysis (GA): The methods used to collect a Gap and an interpretation of the information. See the Academy's CME Resource Page: Gap Analysis (GA).
  • Instructional Design (ID): The practice of maximizing the effectiveness, efficiency and appeal of a learning opportunity. – Typically occurs at the course level.
  • Instructional System Design (ISD) The planning and steps to design and implement an activity.
  • Learning Objectives: Measurable outcomes that the audience/learner will be able to demonstrate as a result of the education.
  • Needs: 1) contributing factors to the formation of a Gap. 2) The knowledge or skills that must be remedied to help close a practice gap.
  • Target Audience: The intended recipients of an educational activity.
Tools and Resources

The following resources are meant to help your organization structure the administrative and design process inherent in creating a CME-bearing activity:


Articles on Instructional System Design:

Articles on program assessment and improvement:

Tips and Recommendations
  • Ensure that your activity aligns with, and supports, your Educational Mission
  • Devote planning time to brainstorming: What does your organization want to accomplish? How does this activity align with your values? How can you make a difference?
  • Review everything. Have the planning group review the structure of the meeting; have a committee to review the content of the activity; the Academy will review materials for compliance with CME regulations.
  • Before assessing or evaluting the audience, ask yourself "how will we use the data that we receive?". If you don't know, then change the question or remove it from the assessment.