Continuing Medical Education - Options Available to You
California law requires all licensed physicians to complete not less than 50 hours
of approved continuing education during each two-year period immediately preceding
the expiration date of the license as a condition of license renewal.
A number of educational activities that meet the content standards set forth in
Business and Professions Code §2190-2191 approved by the Licensing Program
for continuing education credit include: programs accredited by the California Medical
Association (CMA); the American Medical Association; the Accreditation Council for
Continuing Medical Education (ACCME); programs which qualify for prescribed credit
from the American Academy of Family Physicians; and other programs offered by other
organizations and institutions acceptable to the Division.
It is your obligation to fulfill your continuing medical education requirement and
maintain documentation for audit purposes.
The following summary, provided by the Institute of Medical Quality, lists just
some of the many educational activities which can qualify for CME credit.
This information is provided to assist you in finding those options which best meet
your needs and should not be considered exhaustive. You may contact the organizations
listed above should you wish to obtain more specific information about other qualifying
educational activities beyond the following listed by the CMA. Please note that
the hourly limitations below are those of the CMA and not the Medical Board.
- Self-Study Programs Recorded, videotaped, or
televised enduring educational material sponsored by an accredited provider for
home or office listening or viewing. Category 1 credit is granted for completing
and passing a written test on the material presented. Studying for tests does not
count for Category 1 credits.
- Courses, Seminars or Meetings Educational activities
designated as Category 1 approved by the CMA or an ACCME-accredited provider. These
include: local, national, and foreign activities sponsored by accredited hospitals,
medical specialty societies, or medical schools. These courses include hospital
standing activities such as grand rounds and tumor boards. Credit is granted on
an hour-per-hour basis. Foreign courses must be offered by an ACCME-accredited organization
or endorsed by a specialty society.
- Residency and Fellowship Programs Residents
and fellows are allowed six hours of Category 1 credit for each month of residency
or fellowship, with a maximum of 72 hours each year.
- Audiovisual Programs presented by accredited institutions
and organizations may be offered for credit provided they meet all of the CMA's
criteria of a Category 1 program.
- Research A maximum of eight hours of credit
per year is allowed for clinical research activities. (Meritorious Learning - effective
2005, Meritorious Learning included research has been discarded and will no longer
be recognized as legitimate Category 1).
- Advanced Degree Hours may be accumulated in
activities directed toward a master's degree or Ph.D. degree in fields related to
medicine, specifically oriented toward patient care, community and public health
or preventive medicine. A maximum of 25 hours can be claimed for completing these
- Preceptorship A preceptee may receive a maximum
of five Category 1 hours per day. The preceptor must have a faculty-teaching appointment
of comparable credentials. Documentation/verification must be provided by the preceptor.
(Preceptorship which was also included under Meritorious Learning has been discarded).
- Teaching/Presentations/Published Papers These
activities, combined, can have a maximum of thirty-two (32) hours over a four year
period at eight (8) hours per year. They include proctoring, i.e., serving as a
The Medical Board of California by regulation allows:
- Any physician who takes and passes a certifying or recertifying examination administered
by a recognized specialty board credit for four consecutive years (100 hours) of
CME for relicensure purposes.
- A maximum of one-third of the required hours of continuing education may be satisfied
by teaching or otherwise presenting a course or program approved under this section.
As you can see, there are numerous ways that you can obtain CME credit. Some of
these educational activities do not even require that you leave your home. The New
England Journal of Medicine and other prominent medical publications have
available to their subscribers examinations which can be taken to earn CME credit.
For specific details related to those CME opportunities, contact the journals directly.