Saturday, November 26, 2011

Continuing Medical Education and Lifelong Learning

How do you continue to learn when you are in practice and are very busy?  This is an important tenet for the field of continuing medical education, which itself is undergoing constant change.
Many years ago, the methods for achieving required accredited CME were straightforward.  It was common for physicians in practice to attend a medical conference, whether or not it was of interest or applicable to the specialty of the physician.  In such venues, the primary mode of education was didactic.  Nowadays, the possibilities to achieve CME credits are quite numerous, and involve varied methods besides the traditional “lecture”, especially via the internet.  One which has garnered increasing interest recently, in light of maintenance of certification, is performance improvement CME, known as “PI-CME”. 
As an example of the importance of lifelong learning, today I just updated my Epocrates account, and signed up for free CME through this company.  The case-based vignettes were very similar to what would be seen in practice, in my opinion.  The material was presented in an excellent format, review questions were very well written, and feedback was provided, all through the internet from the comfort of my living room recliner. 
Different states have different requirements for a minimum number of accredited CME.  Recall that most affiliations with hospitals, in addition to state licensure, require a minimum amount of required CME accreditation, usually on the order of 50 hours every two years.
Regardless of the number of hours, the key is that physicians be able to identify their own learning needs, and should develop some sort of rationale for how to stay current in their chosen fields.  A great example of an online CME on the topic of Social Media and LifeLong Learning, by Dr. Neil Mehta, can be found here. How are you doing at keeping up in your area of expertise?  Specifically, what strategies can we instill in learners in residency and medical school to cement the importance of lifelong learning so critical to the success of today’s health care professionals?  Please free free to comment on this post: I'm interested in hearing the opinions of others, including those in training, and those who have completed formal training but are still learning.

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