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Clinical Education
Working with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

As an administrator involved in CME, you will undoubtedly rely upon subject matter experts (SMEs). SMEs provide direction, content, administrative assistance, and credibility to the learners. Ultimately, it is our role to help them achieve their vision.

To do this, there are a few tips and tricks. Keep in mind, while it is the SME's job to know the content, it is our job to understand how to create a CME activity, or host a large meeting; help them through that process. Provide the the guidance, and ask the right questions to elicit needed information.

Most likely your subject matter experts' understanding of elearning is driven by two things:  their gut and a course structure they're familiar with.... Ideally you want them to focus less on the information and more on making the information meaningful.- Tom Kuhlmann

Definitions related to working with SMEs
  • CME Champion: A content-area SME for the CME sponsor (the Academy), and Joint Sponsor; the CME champion may be asked questions about content, format, and planning, and must have the ability to make recommendations to the planning committees and faculty of the activity.
  • Subject Matter Expert (SME): An individual who understands a business process or area well enough to answer questions from people in other groups who are trying to help.
Tools and Resources

The following information is provided to enhance working relationships with Subject Matter Experts.


  • Duties of a CME Champion - This form details the role of "CME Champion", a SME who supports the development of an activity by answering content questions for the Provider [the Academy] and who makes CME recommendations to faculty and planners.
  • Faculty letter template - A rough guide to outline initial communications with selected faculty.

Articles on working with SMEs:

Videos on working with SMEs:

Financial Disclosure and Conflict of Interest

Collecting financial disclosures (FD), managing conflicts of interest (COI), and protecting against commercial bias are important aspects of working with subject matter experts.

Due to regulations surrounding each of these processes, the Academy has created a separate CME Resource page devoted to FD, COI and Bias management.

Tips and Recommendations
  • Introduce yourself
  • Set clear expectations; establish an un understanding of what the end goal is and the resources you have to get there
  • Convey that, typically, it takes 2-3 rounds of submissions, questions, and clarifications to finalize a talk or meeting
  • Provide your SME timelines and deliverables
  • Determine how the learners will use the information and build the activity around that
  • Provide your SMEs with relevant information ahead of time
  • Try to answer "how" and "why", relying on your SME to provide the "what"
  • Do not rely upon your SME for 'the entire package' - their role is not to satisfy all of the ACCME, or other, criteria: that's our role as planners.
  • Acknowledge their contributions