American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CME?

Continuing medical education (CME) consists of “educational activities which serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession. The content of CME is that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine, and the provision of health care to the public.” For more information, vist the ACCME website.

Why is CME important?

In addition to engaging in continuous professional development to increase their knowledge, competence, performance, or patient outcomes, physicians need CME credit to maintain their licensure. Simply stated, Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) is a process by which licensed physicians periodically provide, as a condition of license renewal, evidence that they are actively participating in a program of continuous professional development. Evidence of participating in CME activities (i.e. providing documentation of a CME Certificate) helps satisfy this requirement.

Why is accreditation with the ACS important?

The American College of Surgeons is an Accredited Provider with Commendation, through the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). That means that the ACS can provide CME credit for educational activities across various learning formats, including live meetings, internet-based activities (both live and posted/enduring content), Regularly-Scheduled Series (RSS), test-item writing, manuscript review, and non-traditional “Other” formats (blended learning, hybrid formats).

For organizations, groups, ACS Chapters, and ACS activities, seeking to provide CME credit for their educational activities, the ACS Continuous Professional Development (CPDA) team offers a unique one on one approach to assist you through the CME process, in order to produce educational activities that are both compliant and innovative. This includes personalized customer support while ensuring that our team works directly with you throughout the development and implementation of your educational activities from beginning to end. For more information, visit the CME Platform.

Is there a fee involved?

Accreditation for ACS activities (originating from a Division of the College) is free of charge. ACS Chapters’ CME live activities are also free of charge; internet-based formats carry a nominal fee if posted for CME credit for longer than a year. External organizations/universities/hospital systems are invited to partner with ACS to provide CME credit for educational activities through the PartnerCME Joint Providership Program, which offers competitive rates, compared with other accredited providers. Review the PartnerCME fee structure.

Who is CME-Eligible?

The ACS awards AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for all practicing MDs and DOs physician learners. All MD/DOs are eligible to receive a CME Certificate that documents the successful awarding of credit, after fulfilling the requirements for an activity. Non-physician learners (residents, allied health, nurses, etc.) receive a Completion Certificate, which can be presented to their respective credentialing boards to document successful completion of a CME activity.

Does the ACS offer Continuing Education (CE) Credits?

Currently the ACS does not offer CE Credits. However, a Certificate of Completion is provided to residents, allied health professionals, and nurses. The Completion Certificate notes the number of hours completed by the learner which can be taken to their respective credentialing boards for conversion of credit.

How do I calculate how many credits my educational activity is worth?

For educational content that fits the definition of CME credit, an hour of educational programming = 1 CME credit. In other words, 15 minutes of programming = 0.25 CME credits. For “Other” formats (i.e. blended learning or hybrid formats where a portion is self-directed learning) when estimating how many CME credits your educational activity may qualify for, consider the average amount of time that it would take a learner to complete.

What kind of content qualifies for CME credit?

As the ACCME states, “the content of CME is broad, in order to encompass continuing educational activities that assist physicians in carrying out their professional responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.” Topics that span professional practice, including clinical care, professional development (such as effective leadership skills), quality improvement, and so on are eligible for accreditation.

CME content must also meet standards for validation, including the three conditions as outlined by the ACCME. It is the responsibility of program chairs, moderators, etc. to validate the educational content during the development and implementation of the educational activity.

What is the first step that I need to take to apply for CME credit for my educational activity?

To notify the CPDA Team that you are interested in applying for CME credit, please login to the CME Platform and select the button “Start New Application” on the “My Activities” tab. This will take you to the CME Activity Form. The CME Activity Form precedes the CME Credit application and only requires preliminary information. This initial step is required to notify the CPDA team that you will be holding an educational activity and seeking credit. The ACS Disclosure Form is also linked at the bottom of the CME Activity Form. Please have all individuals who will be involved in the development of the content for your activity (i.e., the planning committee) complete the Disclosure Form prior to the start of the planning process.

What happens next?

After reviewing your initial submission, the CPDA Section will release the CME Application, which is the final step needed to apply for CME credit for your educational activity. The Application is due at least 90 days prior to the start of your activity, and includes a gap analysis, as well as other questions pertaining to the development of your educational activity. The completed Disclosure Forms mentioned above, program schedule, as well as planning minutes/narrative that describes the planning process should be uploaded as part of the CME Application. Upon submission, the CPDA Section reviews your Application and will respond with feedback about required edits or the Application’s status within 5 days. Once all Application requirements are complete, your educational activity will be officially approved for CME credit.

Download the CME Process Checklist, which provides more information about the Application and subsequent steps required to complete the CME process.

What else does the ACS provide?

Additional focus areas of learning including State Regulatory Mandates and ACS Accreditation/Verification Program CME Requirements. 

As a benefit of accreditation with the ACS, all ACS members’ CME credits and Certificates are uploaded onto their MyCME profile.

The CPDA Section compiles and creates Continuing Professional Development Resources to assist in the planning and execution of your educational activities. These resources are maintained and updated regularly. Also, all CME Applicants receive a monthly CME Connection Newsletter, that provides information regarding updates related to the CME process and trends in medical education. In addition to these program-wide benefits, a member of the CPDA Section is assigned to your educational activity to provide tailored, step-by-step, personalized guidance related to your educational activity.