Innovation and flexibility in CME activities

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) have simplified and aligned their expectations for accredited CME activities certified for AMA Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) Credit.

The revised AMA PRA credit system standards are designed to encourage innovation and flexibility in CME activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ while continuing to ensure that activities meet education standards and are independent of commercial influence.

Students complete a training exercise

The AMA Council on Medical Education approved the alignment and simplification after receiving input from the CME community through a Call for Comment process.

(Source: AMA PRA Handbook)


Educational content of certified CME

Certified CME is defined as:

  • Nonpromotional learning activities certified for credit prior to the activity by an organization authorized by the credit system owner, or
  • Nonpromotional learning activities for which the credit system owner directly awards credit

Accredited CME providers may certify nonclinical subjects (e.g., office management, patient-physician communications, faculty development) for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ as long as these are appropriate to a physician audience and benefit the profession, patient care or public health.

CME activities may describe or explain complementary and alternative health care practices. As with any CME activity, these need to include a discussion of the existing level of scientific evidence that supports the practices. However, education that advocates specific alternative therapies or teaches how to perform associated procedures, without scientific evidence or general acceptance among the profession that supports their efficacy and safety, cannot be certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

CME credit may not be claimed for learning which is incidental to the regular professional activities or practice of a physician, such as learning that occurs from:

  • Clinical experience
  • Charity or mission work
  • Mentoring
  • Surveying
  • Serving on a committee, council, task force, board, house of delegates or other professional workgroup
  • Passing examinations that are not integrated with a certified activity

Core requirements for certifying activities for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ include: 

  • The CME activity must conform to the AMA/ACCME definition of CME.
  • The CME activity must address an educational need (knowledge, competence or performance) that underlies the professional practice gaps of that activity’s learners.
  • The CME activity must present content appropriate in depth and scope for the intended physician learners.
  • When appropriate to the activity and the learners, the accredited provider should communicate the identified educational purpose and/or objectives for the activity, and provide clear instructions on how to successfully complete the activity.
  • The CME activity must utilize one or more learning methodologies appropriate to the activity’s educational purpose and/or objectives.
  • The CME activity must provide an assessment of the learner that measures achievement of the educational purpose and/or objective of the activity.
  • The CME activity must be planned and implemented in accordance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME ActivitiesSM.