Continuing medical education changes include physician self-evaluation

April 1, 2011

Physicians immersed in the world of continuing medical education (CME) say big changes are happening. And doctors of all specialties, including dermatology, will be affected by the emerging CME focus: individual outcomes improvement.

Key Points

EDITOR'S NOTE: Changes in the goals of continuing medical education (CME) are beginning to take hold and eventually will affect all medical specialties, including dermatology. In this issue, we examine how the emerging format dictates that physicians perform self-evaluation, identify gaps in care, implement solutions to close those gaps and report on results.

"The (healthcare) environment is one of rising costs, increasing concern for patient safety, and yet, ample evidence of subpar clinical care," says George C. Mejicano, M.D., president of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education and professor, department of medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Dr. Mejicano calls traditional CME an enrichment experience in which physicians learn for learning's sake.

"The whole impetus for continuing professional development has been based upon a want: I want to learn about something, so I'm going to learn about it," he says.

"In CME education, we see shifts in education delivery and focus, now with much greater emphasis in performance improvement, point of care education and maintenance of certification," says Dr. Stratman, who is chairman of the Marshfield Clinic CME committee.

New approaches

Dr. Mejicano cites two important newer CME approaches that are gaining ground: Internet point of care and performance improvement.

With Internet point of care, dermatologists facing a question to which they don't immediately have an answer can search for solutions in real time. They can explore a trusted evidence-based care database, immediately implement what they've learned and document the experience with a CME provider.

"The CME provider has to give the learner (or physician) the template by which he documents the following things: What was the clinical question? Where did you find the answer? What did you do with the patient?" Dr. Mejicano says.

"If you do these three things ... you can earn 0.5 credits for a learning cycle," he says. "I've done it, and it takes about 90 seconds to do, if one has ready access to Internet resources and is experienced at online searching."

Dr. Mejicano says one of the biggest CME providers in Internet point of care is http://UpToDate.com/. The concept, according to Dr. Mejicano, is to learn to improve practice in real time.