What is CME?
CME – Continuing Medical Education
Traditionally, the word CME has stood for Continuing Medical Education. It is a mechanism for the medical professionals to stay abreast of the rapidly evolving practices in medicine. In the COVID era, it has become even more essential for medical practitioners to keep up with the mode of treatment developing in conjunction with the feedback from the medical community. Hence, faster communication is the need of the hour.
CME INDIA is an initiative dedicated to Continuing Medical Education but has a slightly different understanding of what the term CME stands for. As CME INDIA fosters dynamic medical education 24×7 via its WhatsApp groups, the term CME, in our context, more appropriately means Continuous Medical Education.
Significance of Continuing Medical Education
There are numerous benefits attached to continuing medical education(CME). First, it allows medical professionals to update their knowledge base. Second, it provides an opportunity for knowledge creators to share their learning with the breadth of the medical community. Third, CMEs provide an opportunity for all the medical professionals to come together and get to know each other, thereby leading to excellent networking opportunities.
These intellectual collaborations have a long-lasting effect on the attendees. It is impossible for practitioners to leave their day to day tasks and go back to medical school. CMEs provide a safe environment for dissemination and consumption of medical education.
It is widely accepted that learning is a life-long process. With the rapid advancement in technology and the amalgamation of technology and medical science, doctors across the globe are at a loss. While no CME can entirely prepare a practitioner for the future. Small advancements can eventually lead to long-term growth.
“Evidence-based studies suggest that no practitioner can hope to remain competent for more than a few years after graduation without a programme of active learning. As such, a system of life-long learning has to be followed.” – WHO
Today, in the COVID Era, Virtual CMEs have become the norm. We are very fortunate to exist in the digital age in which one can connect with people with the tap of a finger. Virtual conferences are on the rise however, it is debatable whether they are as impactful as pre-COVID Live Conferences.
It is worth reinforcing that Continuing Medical Education is the sole responsibility of the practitioner. Besides the obligatory regulatory body requirements, there are numerous other benefits of participating CMEs in India or elsewhere:
Top 3 benefits of CME:
- Stay updated with the best practices in medicine to remain competent.
- Meet obligatory norms set by the Regulatory body.
- Network with other medical and industry professionals.
The World of Continuing Medical Education
Organizing a CME is not an easy task. Apart from the medical professionals a CME may involve academics/educators, event planners and their support staff, keynote speakers or authors, industry partners and accreditation bodies. Historically, Continuing Medical Education has been backed by sponsorships from the Pharmaceutical industry. However, to enforce ethical behaviour various regulatory bodies have been put in place in different countries. For example, in the USA, Continuing Medical Education is overseen by Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).
Sometimes one may come across international, independent, voluntary accreditation bodies that accredit CMEs around the world. One such example is The American Association of Continuing Medical Education. It claims to be the world’s largest accreditation organisation for Continuing Medical Education. It must be noted that this body is not affiliated to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education(ACCME).
Further, it is not uncommon to find educational institutions or other bodies directly participating in CMEs. Stanford Medicine has its own Stanford Centre for Continuing Medical Education. Likewise, Harvard Medical School also has its own Continuing Education Catalog, The University at Buffalo has its Office of Continuing Media Education. These courses are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education. An accredited CME means that the educational medical program offered has been reviewed, meets all the necessary standards and is independent of any commercial or personal influence.
In India, CMEs are governed by The Medical Council of India and the corresponding State Medical Councils. In 2011, MCI made it mandatory for doctors to attend at least 30 hours of CMEs every five years. In the past, CME events have been organised by All India Institute for Medical Sciences as well as other medical schools and hospitals. Sometimes, these events are organized in collaboration with pharmaceutical industry partners.
Conferences, local or over-seas scientific training programs, seminars, presentations, rounds, publications, workshops, webinars etc. are all forms of CME and can cover disease updates/ advancements in procedures or new management insights. Today, due to Coronavirus, CME in 2020 has mostly shifted to online conferences. Virtual conferences are the standard today. Recently WHO published a document titled – Digital education for building health workforce capacity – indicating a clear shift towards digital medium for Continuing Medical Education and upgradation of the medical professionals.
However, it is expected that once COVID-19 pandemic has been controlled, Continuing Medical Education will largely shift to offline conferences but in certain cases the virtual CME model will still prevail.
What to keep in mind when attending a CME?
CME guidelines can vary across regions as different bodies regulate the situation of Continuing Medical Education. Here is a quick look at some of the key points:
- If you are attending a formal event, it is necessary to understand what body is behind accreditation of the Continuing Medical Education event.
- Are you eligible for CME credit upon attending the event?
- How many CME event participations are necessary every year?
- What new CME activities are being organized?
- Medical expertise can vary from center to center. What Medical school/ publication is excelling at what discipline?
- In case of an international CME event it is important to understand whether there is any conflict of interest between your regional CME accreditation body and the CME body of the host country?
CME INDIA and Continuous Medical Education
CME INDIA is an independent body not associated with any accreditation group. It was established on an entirely different premise. Organizing conferences, publication in reputed medical journals etc. takes time and this structured approach has unfortunately put the frontline staff at a loss in the COVID Era. We are now witnessing an unprecedented pooling of resources across institutions to fight the COIVID pandemic. However, certain observation from the frontline staff has also been useful in combating/ de-escalating the situation.
The goal of CME INDIA is to bring together all the essential practices and discussions that happen on the CME INDIA WhatsApp groups to forefront and make it available for the understanding of the doctors.
While, COVID is at the center of all current discussions, CME INDIA has been active since 2016 and has discussed over 10 thousand cases. These have greatly contributed to the intellectual enhancement of all the practitioners. Due to the growing demand for access to CME INDIA groups and the limited head count available per WhatsApp group, it has now become essential for us to crystallise the important discussion in CME INDIA groups.
Primarily, this will give a wider audience access to these important discussions. Many of these discussion will help not only established medical professional but also trainees and students.
The CME INDIA Repository contains compilations related to various topics and will enrich all those who read through them. For those interested in reading case studies can visit the CME INDIA Case Study section. Every two days we publish a case study that has been discussed amongst the top medical brains of the country. These case studies are presented through images or where possible, these are accompanied by videos of the subject.
There are two more important sections in the CME INDIA webpage – History Today in Medicine and Future CMEs. As the name suggests, History Today in Medicine throws light on important figures in medical history, whereas Future CMEs section contains details of the upcoming conferences. Finally, our most important content is also linked on homepage just below the Future CMEs section in the form of Important Scientific Materials. This section also houses the CME INDIA Downloads section, which is a collection of numerous presentations and pdfs.
CME INDIA WhatsApp groups are a dynamically evolving entity and it is not always possible to extract all the discussions that take place amongst its approx. 2000 members. Still, the CME INDIA webpage brings together all the highlights of the many discussions that take place on a day to day basis.
It is hoped that all the medical professional who interact with the CME INDIA website find it useful and participate in discussion by commenting through the comments box available at the end of each article. In order to maintain the sanity of the group, the comments section is moderated and only comments relevant to the article at hand are approved. This results in a cleaner and invigorating intellectual interaction that benefits both the current and future visitors of the website.
We have now only begun to bring the best bits of CME INDIA WhatsApp groups to the CME INDIA website. On 19th August, 2021, CME INDIA celebrated its first year of launch – A Commitment to Illumination. Though there is a long road ahead of us, we are confident that the wealth of knowledge that we are sharing with our audience is going to add to their experience and help them grow in their profession. CME INDIA will eventually function as a treasure trove for established and upcoming medical practitioners.