Demystifying the Accreditation Council for Continuing Education Commendation Criteria
Any organization who has earned accreditation through the ACCME has two avenues they can pursue when renewing their accreditation. Most organizations opt for the standard accreditation, but those that standout from the crowd will seek accreditation with commendation. Achieving accreditation with commendation requires the organization demonstrate they are providing education that is a step above meeting the essential criteria. The latest version of the commendation criteria (approved 2017) encourage organizations to engage in five major areas: Promoting team-based education, addressing public health priorities, enhancing skills, achieving outcomes and demonstrating educational leadership. Sharp CME is forging ahead in developing education that addresses these priorities, but we cannot achieve commendation without your help – chairs, committee members, educational leaders in other medical professions, administrators, and patients. To achieve commendation more effectively let us clarify a few myths.
Myth #1: If I invite a patient to provide their perspective as a faculty member this sufficiently meets Criterion 24 (C24), engaging patients/public in education.
FALSE: Engaging patients as faculty to ensure the patient perspective is consider during education is extremely important and highly encouraged, but it is only half the story. To comply with Criterion 24 (C24) it is important to engage patients/public in the planning of an educational activity from the beginning along with identifying potential faculty. Engaging patients/public can be achieved in a number of ways; some examples including a general patient survey or focus group to discuss their experience, engaging specific patients for specific specialty areas, engaging family members of patients who have recently received care, or requesting physician educational ideas from the public at community-focused educational events.
Myth #2: For a continuing education activity to receive accreditation for CME credit the faculty member(s) presenting the education must be a credentialed physician.
FALSE: Faculty selection is based on the learning objectives and expected outcomes established for the educational activity in conjunction with their professional expertise and ability to address the topic(s). While those experts are often in the same profession as the target audience, this is not required. Criteria within promoting team-based education (C23, C24, C25) actually encourage the use of various experts including, patients, health profession students/residents, other members of the healthcare team including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists and public health officials. Additionally, if developing team-based education remember, a range of team members in different professions/roles should engage in the planning process to ensure the development of relevant learning objectives and outcomes. Using a range of health care experts as faculty (and planners) also satisfies the C27 and C28 as it relates to addressing public health priorities. Anytime you include a student/resident as a faculty person you should ensure they are properly mentored by their preceptor/clinical instructor in the development of their content.
Myth #3: A professional practice gap and a needs assessment are not the same thing.
FALSE: The term “professional practice gap” and “needs assessment” are two terms for the same idea – the need for evidence of why education is needed, or to put it another way, the evidence that there is a difference between what learners know/do as compared to what they should know/do. This evidence can come in various forms, updated clinical guidelines, new clinical research, new technology/medications, legislative, regulatory or organizational changes impacting patient care, feedback from evaluations, survey responses, committee/leadership consensus, quality data, publicly reported metrics, internal metrics (performance targets), mortality/morbidity data, or other tracked data related to specific-procedures and/or conditions. All education should be based on some form of evidence and planners are encouraged to use tracked statistics, metrics or performance targets as part of the needs assessment (or practice gap) to improve the ability to determine the ultimate effectiveness of the education. Doing so, supports compliance with criteria associated with achieving outcomes (C36, C37, C38).
Myth #4: One list of learning objectives (LO) and expected outcomes (EO) for all learners is appropriate, whether there is one profession or several professions identified as the target audience.
FALSE: Properly designed accredited continuing education activities should reflect the identified learning objectives (LO) and expected outcomes (EO) for all target audiences. In some cases, one LO can apply to several professions or specialties, but often, different team members participating in interprofessional education will have unique learning objectives connected to their specific role on the team. As more and more education becomes team-based, activity planners must remain diligent in engaging and designing for all team members and not just the physicians in the case of CME-accredited education. This process leads to compliance with C23, engaging interprofessional teams.
Myth #5: To be accredited, education is designed to fit one of these activity types: courses (in-person or webinar), online content, performance improvement (PI CME), or a regularly scheduled series (RSS).
FALSE: These are only a few of the permitted activity types. There are other types including journal-based CME, manuscript review, and something termed “other”. I want to focus on the “other” activity type, but if you want to learn more please visit the ACCME website. “Other” is a relatively new category added in recognition of the growing number of innovative and creative educational opportunities that providers are offering that do not fit elsewhere. This means if you have an idea for education, but it seems non-traditional or uses a combination of formats it can (and should) be accredited under the activity type “other”, assuming it meets all other criteria. This is a real opportunity to think outside the box in how education is developed and then consumed. These educational activities lead to compliance with demonstrating educational leadership, C35.
If you want to learn more about the ACCME Commendation Criteria, please review the available resources:
ACCME Commendation Criteria
Commendation Criteria Wheel
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