• CME Explained: Why You Need It and How You Can Get It

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    As a young ophthalmologist, you are embarking on a new profession. But learning opportunities don’t end when you leave training. In fact, you have to attain a certain number of continuing medical education credits each year, to keep your licensure and certification. Here’s what you need to know about CME and post-training education.

    What Is CME Exactly?

    CME gives physicians of all ages a broad set of standardized courses and materials from which to build a customized ongoing education plan. Activities that earn CME credit for state and national licensing requirements must be certified by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. All ACCME-certified CME activities include a statement indicating the type and number of credits available.

    In order to maintain board certification with the American Board of Ophthalmology, ophthalmologists must attest to having earned 50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits every two years, including 16 credits of self assessment. At least 80 percent of these credits must be specific to ophthalmology.

    In general, it takes one hour to obtain each credit, which works out to 25 hours per year, on average.

    In addition, you need to obtain a certain number of CME credits over a given period of time for maintaining your state licensure. Requirements differ by state. For example, California requires an average of 50 hours of CME every two years. Visit the American Medical Association website for more information.

    Academy CME  

    As part of its commitment to protecting sight and leading ophthalmic education, the Academy offers more than 1,650 hours of CME-related instruction – and more activities are added every year. Academy CME covers all 10 practice emphasis areas included in the ABO’s maintenance of certification process:

    • Cataract and Anterior Segment
    • Cornea and External Disease
    • Glaucoma
    • Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit
    • Oculoplastics and Orbit
    • Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
    • Refractive Management and Intervention
    • Retina and Vitreous
    • Uveitis
    • Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    Activity formats range from podcasts and online self-assessments to courses and performance improvement projects. Many CME activities are free for Academy members. For example, you can earn up to 33 CME credits from attending the annual meeting, including self-assessment credit. The meeting is a free event for all Academy members.  

    Other CME activities include:

    * These activities also count for self-assessment credits.

    You can also obtain CME credits outside of the Academy, via peer-reviewed journals and non–peer-reviewed magazines CME supplements. Many academic conferences and your local state ophthalmology society also offer CME activities.

    “I get most of mine from the Academy’s annual meeting every year,” said Natasha L. Herz, MD, chair of the YO Info editorial board. “The Academy’s Focal Points is excellent source too, as is the Practicing Ophthalmologists Learning System, an online question bank that’s very useful when preparing for the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge exam.”  

    Finding and Tracking CME

    Browse all available Academy-sponsored CME activities at aao.org/CME. You can narrow your search results by activity type, content area and CME type. If an activity requires payment, the website will take you directly to the Academy Store for purchase.

    Be prepared to prove your CME credits at any time. The Academy provides an online CME transcript for all members. Visit aao.org/CME to claim CME credit; view, print and download your CME transcript. You can also add non-Academy CME credits manually.  

    You’ll also receive a certificate for every CME activity completed — tuck these away just in case you are ever required to prove your credits.

    For additional CME questions, email CME@aao.org or call 415.561.8540 or toll-free 866.561.8558.

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    About the author: Mike Mott is a former assistant editor for EyeNet Magazine and contributing writer for YO Info.