Medicine is a science that no one can perfect. You spend your entire life learning and practicing and at the end of the day you will still find yourself lacking in certain areas. After 4 years of medical school you graduate to find out you know little about actual procedures and how insert a urinary catheter for instance. You then spend three to five years as a resident then become a fellow to realize there’s a ton you don’t know about that subspecialty. The older you get the more you know and the more you realize that there’s a long way ahead of you. Some physicians choose to become highly specialized in one area in their field slightly neglecting other specialties while others prefer to stay connected and updated with everything in the medical field.
Once you finish your fellowship your training is basically over. There are no more official training programs for you to enroll in. You’re now your own doctor and supposedly an expert on your specialty. Despite all that medicine is always changing and evolving so you’ll need to keep studying in order to stay up to date with everything that’s new in the world of medicine whether in your specialty or in another. One way to do this is through CME or continuous medical education. Continuous medical education means that you can never finish it. New courses and programs are released everyday from dozens of universities all over the country. The key is to find the ones relevant to your practice the most and use them to expand your knowledge and learn new techniques. There are lots of reasons to consider CME such as improving yourself as a doctor, getting a better job with a higher salary, and not losing face with patients who read about something new online that you haven’t heard of.
There are lots of different types of CME activities. For starters there are courses. In a course you will be learning in person. It’s basically a meeting, seminar, or conference that you attend in order to build your skills. If a course has multiple sessions that will occur on an ongoing basis then this is called a regularly schedules series (RSS). Another type of CME activity is an internet live course. This course is only held at a certain time and you can only be part of it during that time. It’s like an online version of a seminar or conference. If you miss the event you can’t view it at another time. An example of an internet live course would be a webcast. A variation of this is an internet enduring material activity. This isn’t live so you can choose the time that suits you best in order to view and complete it. Examples of an internet enduring material activity are recorded presentations and podcasts.
A journal based CME activity is one where the physician is required to read an article and then solve questions or perform a set of tasks related to the content of the article. An internet searching and learning activity is one where as a physician you identify a problem then access and search the internet in order to find a solution to that problem. There’s no shortage of CME activities. You can always find one that suits you. If you have the time and would like to attend something in person you can attend a course. If you don’t have the time to travel then you could attend live courses online and if that doesn’t suit your time then you can just do an internet enduring material.
Now that you know that there’s no shortage of ways to take part in CME activities you need to find the motivation to do so. One of the very first reasons and one that will definitely get you to participate is that it’s a requirement. In some states you are required to have a certain number of CME credits at the end of each year. Each activity you participate in will reward you with a certain number of credits. The providers of the CME will also have a record of you participating and can verify your credit. So you’re going to need to get your credits according to the requirements.
It’s also necessary for your practice. You could learn new information that some of your colleagues may not know. This will give you an advantage over them. New medications and techniques are discovered every year and learning them will allow you to provide your patients with the maximum medical care. Even if you don’t end up learning lots of new information you’re still refreshing and revisiting information you already know and may have forgotten. Some doctors forget the basic sciences of medicine as they grow older so that’s one way to keep them fresh.
CME activities may also help you secure a better job with better pay. CME networking and meeting other doctors at courses or online can help you establish communication with them which may open the door for future cooperation and job opportunities. Also the faces you see at these activities are faces that are eager to learn and ones you’d want to hire. So being present at these activities gives the impression that you’re enthusiastic for medicine and have a thirst for knowledge. Apart from connections and personnel learning new skills and knowledge will make you standout as a physician. You’re not someone doing a technique that’s a couple of decades old, you’re the one applying the new stuff and staying ahead of the curve. These are all things that might get you a better job that not just pays better, but also lets you do and contribute more to medicine.
Now that medical information is easily accessible online a lot of patients will come to visit your office with a lot of knowledge about their condition. Through their search on the internet they may have come across an article with new information or even a CME and unknowingly they might click on it and learn a thing or two. You don’t need to put yourself in the kind of position where your patient knows more about their condition and new therapies than you do. It makes you seem weak and if you explain that this is new information you haven’t heard of you’ll seem outdated. These are things that may make patients lose their trust in you and look for another doctor who’s up to date. So knowing your medicine and everything new and recent about it will help you keep your patients and attract new ones.
There’s no excuse to not taking part in CME activities. Besides the variation of activities and that you’ll without a doubt find one that suits your time, money isn’t an issue either. Some CME activities are completely free while others will require certain qualifications. So you’ll need to search in order to find the activity that best fits your profile and financial situation. As for time it definitely won’t be an issue. If you don’t have time to go to one in person then you can do it online and if you can’t be restrained by a certain time frame then there are enduring activities that you can do whenever you’re free.
CMEs are a great way to network with colleagues and boost your medical knowledge. They’re also very engaging and get you to participate so it’s not like reading straight from a textbook. There are different types such as courses, live sessions, enduring sessions, journal based, and more. The benefits are numerous such as becoming a better doctor for your patients, having the edge over your colleagues, and finding a better job. If all of these don’t motivate you then the fact that they may be required definitely will.