Frequently Asked Questions - Continuing Medical Education

What is Category 1?

Courses or programs designated by the American Medical Association (AMA) or the California Medical Association as Category 1 credits related to one of the following: patient care, community health or public health, preventive medicine, quality assurance or improvement, risk management, health facility standards, the legal aspects of clinical medicine, bioethics, professional ethics, or improvement of the physician-patient relationship.

Back to Top


How many hours are granted for passing a specialty board examination?

Any physician who takes and passes a certifying or recertifying examination administered by a recognized specialty board is granted credit for 100 Category 1 hours for four consecutive years.

Back to Top


Does the American Medical Association's Physician Recognition Award (PRA) meet the CME requirement?

To obtain a PRA, a physician must participate in 150 hours of CMEs, of which 60 hours are approved Category 1. If more than 60 hours of Category 1 CME are obtained to receive a PRA, a copy of the PRA application should be submitted to receive the appropriate amount of credit.

Back to Top


How can I claim hours for which I have no documentation?

The organization sponsoring the program must provide documentation that includes the participant's name, course title, dates of attendance and duration, the sponsoring organization and accrediting agency name, and hours received.

Back to Top


What if I cannot afford the cost involved in taking CME courses?

Hospitals have lunch meetings that are approved for Category 1 credit and offered to all physicians. Physicians having trouble finding Category 1 courses may call the CMA for assistance at (415) 882-5183. (An article with suggested CME opportunities is available upon request.)

Back to Top


I have a California license, but I am currently in the military. Can I be exempt from CME?

Perhaps. The law requires that every military physician comply with the CME requirement. However, reasons of war or being aboard a ship for extended periods of time (several years) which preclude a physician from participating in any CME may be considered. Requests to waive the CME requirement may be submitted to the Licensing Operations Section of the Medical Board. Call the Consumer Information Unit at (916) 263-2382 for a request form.

Back to Top


I received a waiver for my last renewal period. How many hours do I need to complete by my next renewal?

If a waiver is granted for a renewal period, 100 approved hours must be completed by the renewal period following the waived period.

Back to Top


Should I send CME documentation with my license renewal notice?

No. If a physician is not being audited for CME completion, it is only necessary to sign the self-certification statement on the renewal application form and return it with the renewal payment. If the physician did not receive a renewal notice, he/she should contact the Board's Consumer Information Unit at 1-800-633-2322 to request a new notice.

Back to Top


If I am audited, do I have to show proof of attendance at CME courses or programs?

Yes. Documents that are acceptable include: Certificates of completion of CME events that name the physician as the participant, the name and date(s) of the course or program, the number of approved Category 1 hours or prescribed credit hours granted for attendance, or a copy of the medical specialty board certificate (good for 100 hours of credit).

Back to Top


What happens if I am audited and cannot show proof or evidence of attendance of CME programs?

The Licensing Program will allow a physician to renew his or her license one time following the audit to permit him or her to make up any deficient CME hours. However, the Board will not renew the license a second time until all the required hours have been documented to the Program. Furthermore, a physician may be charged with "unprofessional conduct" for misrepresenting compliance with the CME requirements during the license renewal process. (Title 16, California Code of Regulations, Section 1338.)

Back to Top