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Is CME A Joke?

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 5:34am

I know it’s a good idea for us docs to participate in continuing education. What physician doesn’t understand that graduating from medical school/residency training is just the beginning of a life-long educational journey? And hospitals and states require CME for maintaining privileges and licenses.

But here’s the problem. With the possible exception of courses during which you learn a new technique [but be careful if they are industry sponsored], most CME activities are useless. A recent meta-analysis of the value of CME showed that physician effectiveness and patient outcomes are not influenced much by CME activities. Another two studies [here & here] showed that the didactic session, the most frequently used CME method, is the least effective at changing physician behavior. Samuel Johnson said it 200 years ago: “Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary.”

There’s also the problem of assessing the knowledge acquired at a didactic session like a lecture or paper presented at a conference. Most society meetings or congresses just mandate that you sign in. You could be sleeping, daydreaming or surfing the Internet on your smart phone while sitting in the audience.

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