The foundation of a CME activity is 'evidence-based education'. Conducting a Needs Assessment will lead your organization to collect evidence, analyze the data, and decide upon a course of action.
While conducting a Needs Assessment is recommended, it is important to note that the ACCME does not require a formal needs assessment. You are required to "incorporate into CME activities the educational needs that underlie the professional practice gaps" [C2] (which the Academy ensures by reviewing your ), "use a planning process that links identified educational needs with desired results" (which the Academy ensures by reviewing your Instructional System Design [ISD]), and "use needs assessment data" [E2.2] (which is nothing more than the identification of gaps, barriers, and resources). A formal Needs Assessment is only required when applying for educational grants.
Many CME planners have used surveys, "expert" opinion, and literature reviews as a primary method of gathering needs-assessment data. The needs-assessment data that have been collected in this way will be minimally useful in helping CME planners identify and address the learning needs of physicians. - Dr. Donald E. Moore
The tools, examples, and resources below are designed to avoid the shortcomings described by Dr. Moore. By conducting a proper Needs Assessment, you will address or support 9 of the 22 ACCME Updated Criteria and 3 of 7 Essential Elements.
- Assessment: A comparative evaluation of, gaps, needs, barriers and resources.
- Gaps / Practice gap: The difference between a current state and desired state. Gaps are typically expressed in terms of normative data.
- Gap analysis (GA): The methods used to collect a Gap and an interpretation of the information.
- 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.
- Needs Assessment (NA): 1) The process of identifying and measuring areas for improvement in a target audience, and determining the methods to achieve improvement. 2) A narrative document detailing the linkages between gaps, barriers, and resources.
- Target Audience: The intended recipients of an educational activity.
- Wants: Possible solutions proposed to close a gap by targeting a need.
Articles on Assessment
- Link the subject to the environment where a learner will encounter the gap
- Create an "educational linkage" from the discovery of the problem, through the education, to the expected outcomes.
- Quantify the information being presented
- Avoid generalities
- Provide backup for claims and statements
- Try not to state more than you prove
- If possible, provide outcomes information from previous, similar, activities
- Draw connections - a Needs Assessment is a narative document
- Consider options, even if you do not have the resources to address some needs or gaps, it is worth listing them
The following information is garnered from internal research by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Diagnose This Review: Summer, 2011. Gaps uncovered via online diagnosis simulation, reviewed for validity and contributing needs.
- Evidence in:
- Contact lens fitting and management of related complications.
- Diagnostic evaluation of white retinal lesions.
- Management of orbital lymphangioma.
- Differentiation of abnormal and normal gonioscopic findings.
- Differentiation of microbiologic studies.
Witkin, Belle Ruth., and James W. Altschuld. Planning and Conducting Needs Assessments: a Practical Guide. Thousand Oaks, Calif. u.a.: Sage Publ., 2006. Print.
Altschuld, James W., and Belle Ruth Witkin. From Needs Assessment to Action: Transforming Needs into Solution Strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000. Print.
Gupta, Kavita, Darlene F. Russ-Eft, and Catherine Sleezer. A Practical Guide to Needs Assessment. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer/Wiley, 2007. Print.
World Health Organization (WHO) Needs Assessment: Evaluation of Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder Treatment