What is Category 1 vs. Category 2 continuing medical education (CME) credits?
Continuing medical education (CME) is an education obtained by physicians as a way of documenting that they are updating their knowledge relevant to their practice and maintaining educational activities required by the
- State Medical Boards
- Medical Specialty Boards
CME is awarded by American Medical Association (AMA) since 1968 and is designated as either AMA PRA Category 1 or AMA PRA Category 2. The AMA PRA stands for American Medical Education Physician’s Recognition Award. Let’s jump to find out more about them and how this can benefit you.
What is considered AMA PRA Category 1 CME?
The AMA PRA Category 1 CME is the highest category of CMEs physicians can obtain. This is offered by a person or organization who has been through a formal vetting process of submitting necessary documents and disclosures to make them eligible for providing Category 1 CME. An individual cannot document Category 1 CME on their own. The course provider will typically disclose before the activity that this is an AMA PRA Category 1 CME.
Here are other additional activities eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 credits:
- Reviewing a journal article for a MEDLINE indexed journal which requires multiple reviewers and must be deemed acceptable by the editor.
- Journal-based CME
- Test item writing – Writing questions for examinations administered by the American Board of Medical Specialties or a self-assessment educational activity from a national medical specialty society. The latter must be peer reviewed and published.
- Performance improvement
- Internet point of care learning
- Publishing in a Medline indexed journal. Only the first author is eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 credit
All activities must meet all requirements of the standard learning format and AMA’s core requirements.
What is considered Category 2 CME?
Category 2 CME on the other hand is documented by the individual. The requirements for Category 2 are softer than what is required for Category 1 CME
How are CME credits calculated for the audience?
Physicians who attend a designated course will obtain credits equivalent to the number of hours attended. For example,
1 hour course = 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CME
Credits are rounded off to the nearest quarter. If the course is 34 minutes long (which is unlikely, but I am just saying this), the credits earned are 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CME.
A similar method is used to calculate AMA PRA Category 2 credits.
How are CME credits calculated to the presenter?
According to American Medical Association the CME course presenter is entitled to get double the amount of CME credits compared to the audience. For instance, the presenter can be awarded 2 AMA PRA Category 1 CME for a 1 hour presentation. If the presentation is 30 minutes long, then the number of credits earned will be 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CME.
As a presenter, you will need to keep clear documentation of all your presentations to receive CME credits.
What are prescribed CME credits?
Prescribed CME credits are those offered by a particular organization. For example, American Academy of Family Physicians uses the term prescribed CME credits (Hyperlink – https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/types-definitions-of-cme-activities-and-credits-members-may-earn-for-membership.html). The examples of prescribed credits include the following
- Live group activities
- Enduring materials
- CME from medical journals
- Performance improvement
- Point of care activities and
- College of family physicians of Canada Mainpro certified credits
What are examples of Category 2 CME?
here are many activities that are eligible for a category 2 CME.
- Teaching residents
- Teaching medical students
- Teaching other health care professionals
- Online searching and learning
- Reading medical journals
- Online participation in academic activities
- Medical writing
- Research activities
- Self-assessment activities
- Consultation with peers and medical experts
- Preceptorship participation
It is the physician’s responsibility to claim the number of hours equal to the activities performed.
What Category 2 CME activates are approved as patient safety activates?
Here are some examples from the State of Pennsylvania – hyperlink https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/LicensingServices/2010/MedicineSeptember2010-2.pdf. These examples listed are similar across many states
- Improving medical records and record-keeping
- Reducing medical errors
- Professional conduct and ethics
- Improving communications
- Preventative medicine
- Healthcare quality improvement activities
How do you record CME?
There is no standard for recording CME This process is very frustrating and I have struggled with tracking my CME. In surveying my colleagues, they shared the same frustration.
For CME activity, you must document:
- Type of CME (Category 1 or 2)
- Name of certificate or course
- Date of completion
- Credits earned (number of hours)
- Certifying body
Here is the summary differences between the Category 1 AND Category 2
Type of activities
Pre presentation Disclosures
Conflicts of Interest
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