Frequently Asked Questions

What is CME?

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is defined as “educational activities that 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” (source: ACCME and AMA).

Who is ACCME?

ACCME is the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the organization that sets the standards for the accreditation of all providers of CME activities.

Who is the AMA?

The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues.

What types of activities qualify for CME certification?

  • The ACCME definition of CME is broad, to encompass continuing educational activities that assist physicians in carrying out their professional responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. Examples of topics that are included in the ACCME definition of CME content include: Management, for physicians responsible for managing a health care facility
  • Educational methodology, for physicians teaching in a medical school
  • Practice management, for physicians interested in providing better service to patients
  • Coding and reimbursement in a medical practice

When physicians participate in continuing education activities that are not directly related to their professional work, these do not fall within the ACCME definition of CME content. Although they may be worthwhile for he physicians, continuing education activities related to a physician’s nonprofessional education needs or interest, such as personal financial planning is not considered CME content by the ACCME.

What type of CME credit do physicians need?

AMA PRA Category 1 Credit is the most common type of credit physicians need for medical license maintenance. In order for an activity to be designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, it must be planned by an accredited CME provider (e.g., MSU College of Human Medicine)

What is the difference between Category 1 and Category 2 Credit?

Category 1 CME activities are:

  • Formally planned activities that include documentation of acceptable needs assessment, learning objectives, educational design, an evaluation method, and disclosure
  • Planned and implemented in full compliance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support
  • Prospectively certified for credit by an ACCME-accredited CME provider

Category 2 "self claim" credits are:

  • Informally planned physician-initiated activities such as practice-based self-study, consultations with colleagues, teaching, morbidity and mortality conferences, journal clubs, etc.
  • The MSU College of Human Medicine Office of CME is not involved with planning, certifying, or tracking Category 2 activities.

What is the cost of CME certification?

The cost of certifying your activity for CME credit depends on:

  • Type of activity (joint versus directly sponsored, live versus enduring, one-hour versus five-day, etc).
  • Number of credit hours

How do I obtain CME credit for my activity?

Contact the MSU College of Human Medicine Office of CME at (517) 884-8873 or to discuss your activity.

What is the difference between a direct and jointly provided CME activity?

Directly provided: A CME activity that the MSU College of Human Medicine’s CME office accredits and implements with another department or unit within the MSU College of Human Medicine. 
Jointly provided: A CME activity that is developed and implemented by two institutions or organizations and only one of the institutions or organizations is accredited by the ACCME. The accredited provider (e.g., MSU College of Human Medicine) must take responsibility for a CME activity when it is presented in cooperation with a nonaccredited institution or organization. A commercial interest cannot take the role of nonaccredited entity in a jointly provided relationship (Source: ACCME).

Why do CME faculty (speakers, presenters, moderators, activity directors, authors, planning committee members, etc) have to complete a CME disclosure form?

The ACCME requires CME providers (i.e., MSU College of Human Medicine Office of CME) to require everyone who is in a position to control the content of an educational activity to disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest(s) in order to prevent potential bias in the educational content.

Is it okay for a pharmaceutical sales representative to bring in food for a grant rounds session?

No, pharmaceutical sales representatives or representatives of medical product/device manufacturers cannot pay directly for the food. However, they can provide an educational grant for a CME event in support of the food costs.

A pharmaceutical company has offered to provide an educational grant to cover the speaker's honorarium, but they will "take care of the speaker's travel." Is this okay?

No, the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support require that all support from commercial interests be provided to the accredited CME provider in the form of an educational grant.

Can a pharmaceutical company choose who will speak at my department's meeting?

No, it is up to the activity director to select appropriate topics and speakers for their CME activity based upon the target audience's educational needs. The activity director can request a speaker list from a pharmaceutical representative and then select an appropriate speaker and topic from the list. The activity director should then communicate with the chosen speaker and delineate the learning objectives he/she would like the speaker to address.

A pharmaceutical company has provided an educational grant to support a grand rounds session that is certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. The company has signed a grant agreement to cover the meeting expenses and one of the sales representatives wants to give a short presentation on the company's newest product at the beginning (or end) of the session. Is this allowed?

No, CME providers cannot allow representatives of commercial interests to engage in sales or promotional activities while in the space or place of the CME activity.

Why do I have to obtain a patient authorization or de-identify for the CME presentation?

In response to growing concerns about keeping health information private, the U.S. Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The legislation includes a privacy rule that creates national standards to protect individuals' personal health information. HIPAA allows health care providers to utilize patient information, without authorization, in teaching activities involving MSU CHM faculty, staff, and medical trainees. When other individuals may be present at a conference (for example, college students visiting for a day, or physicians and nurses from a private practice) patient authorization must be obtained OR information de-identified. The items considered to be identifiers by the federal government and therefore to be removed are extensive—basically anything that could tie the medical information to an individual—including, but not limited to name, address, social security and medical record number, picture of face, any date associated with the individual (admission, discharge, birth, death), and implanted device serial numbers. Whenever possible, de-identify information to be presented at conferences. For additional information, visit