Why do states have different CME requirements?

One of the most complicated aspects of continuing medical education in the United States is the brevity of possible requirements based on individual states. These can vary wildly, from almost no requirements at all, to very extensive and specific CE requirements based on profession. But why is this not the case? Why isn’t there one central standard for healthcare licenses mandated by the federal government? 

  The answer ends up being one of governance, not medicine. Due to the separation of powers, all rights not specifically given to the federal government fall to the states — this includes deciding what certifications doctors within their borders need to do to renew their license. Each state’s medical board then has the ability to decide exactly what the doctors in their state need to accomplish every one to four years in order to maintain their medical license. Some states, such as Indiana, have no requirements whatsoever, meaning a doctor practicing within the state needs to only earn their license once and then they have it for life. Most states, however, have a specified set of requirements to maintain the license, ranging from 15-35 continuing education credits per year. The full spread of state-by-state requirements can be seen below: 

Luckily, the majority of credits are measured using the same metric: AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. These continuing education credits are given to physicians who complete courses verified by the American Medical Association (hence the AMA in the name). 

Still, if a physician wishes to practice in multiple states, he or she must fulfill all the requirements for each of the states he or she is practicing in. Using the AMA PRA credits has its perks though since multiple states can be satisfied by using the same pool of earned credits, making redundant classes less of a potential issue. However, certain specialties often require field-specific training that must be kept up-to-date along with maintaining basic state compliance. 

When it comes to continuing education, especially in the medical field, the process is simply too complicated for there to be one simple solution that can be applied to everyone in the field. The fact that each state manages a different set of requirements can be a hassle and a headache for physicians, especially those practicing in multiple states. 

However, the bottom line is that physicians need to stay up-to-date on developments in their field, and they have to make sure that they aren’t getting rusty and providing subpar care for their patients. For an already busy physician, the time and mental energy of staying up to date with continuing education requirements can be a mental burden that keeps them from performing at their best.  

Related post: One stop CE/CME Source

That’s why we at ACEA offer the CE app, a free continuing education tracker that can help physicians streamline the complicated process of maintaining licensing compliance. Physicians can import previous credits and then find classes specifically tailored to their needs, taking into account their specialty and state of residence. These courses are designed to be actually useful to the physician, teaching and reinforcing relevant information so they can provide better care, as opposed to just taking whatever classes are available, which can be a shot in the dark. The CE app is carefully designed to help streamline the complicated process of continuing education. With a plethora of features at your disposal, physicians using the app have a distinct advantage going into CE credit renewal season, and have more time to focus on the essence of medical practice — providing quality care.

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