The Influence of Continuing Medical Education (CME) in Maintaining Competency of Healthcare Professionals
Authors: A. Keerthikah School of Law, Mumbai University.
Healthcare professionals are considered by many to be akin to God. This field is developing very day to suit the needs of the patients hence the knowledge of medicine is never enough. Some doctors even say they further they are away from medical school they less knowledge they seem to have. This problem is solved by CME, which updates the medical professionals with knowledge of newer development in the medical field.
The cycle of learning is never ending as humans know so little compared to the vast knowledge which still remains hidden. In the field of medicine, humans can still progress in so many ways, to keep up with newer theories, it is important for the healthcare professionals to upgrade their knowledge every once in a while. Continuing Medical Education is an effort to make this possible. Continuing Medical Education (CME) is a continuous process of education which helps to increase the skills of a healthcare professionals and aims to provide better service to people in the aspect of medicine care. CME consists of webinars and seminars organised by various organisations across the country. It is a component of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which is a newer and a broader term. CME focus more on medical aspect of a healthcare profession whereas CPD covers all the aspects such as social, managerial and personal skills.
CME IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) regulates CME in United States(US).The Global Education Group and Medical Meetings Magazine conducted a report in US where the majority of the people mentioned that CME programmes helped them in terms of lowering the cost of care and improving patient care. These interactive lectures and seminars are attended with great enthusiasm as most of the healthcare professionals have attended more events than required by their state. The doctors participating in these programmes went into great detail about how they used the acquired information in their operation centres. Some of them are better equipped to deal with medical conditions with detailed information of new drugs. The medical field is expanding day by day with newer drugs being introduced hence it is imperative for the professionals in this field to update their knowledge. In US, the states have their respective regulations governing CME if they don’t follow them then they tend to lose their medical license and face penalties. Even though CME programmes has a lot of positive effects on healthcare, the involvement of industries have resulted in these programmes become a promotion ground for their drugs. The content of CME is used to persuade the physicians to use a particular drug. Studies show that Physicians who interact more often with industry have poorer prescribing habits and are less likely to follow guidelines This is also the case in Canada, where the involvement of industries have been discouraged as this has led to poor patient care.
The importance of CME was further highlighted after the health care professionals in UK showed a severe lack of clinical teamwork, poor treatment of patients. The country implemented CME system composed of three interrelated yet separately monitored and administered parts, each of which requires CPD: (1) mandatory recertification, (2) annual appraisal (for doctors in England), and (3) mandatory revalidation.
In the state of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya the research report states that even in the doctors of that region, CME has progressed to CPD which has improved their quality of patient care and shown a great decrease in malpractices.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) regulates the CME programmes in India. It has made it mandatory for doctors of all medical field to attend 30 hours of CME which is equivalent to 30 CME credit points to renew registration in every five years. In other developed countries, the rules and regulations are stricter whereas in India, a developing country the rules are not as binding. This has caused the effect of CME to lessen. Even though India produces around 30,00 doctors, due to poor regulation by the medical colleges the quality of these doctors is poor. Most of the medical colleges are more focused on the theoretical aspect instead of the practical aspect, knowledge that a person can memorizes is preferred to the skills he/she has. This results in medical students graduating without any practical skill, which will help them in the future and with new discoveries in the medical field it has become important to attend these programmes which imparts more practical knowledge to the doctors. But CME programmes has not been welcomed in India as most people from the medical field feel that their valuable time is being wasted on attending these webinars, time which can be given to patients. The doctors in the rural areas suffer more than the ones in the urban area, as most of these programmes are conducted in the urban areas and they have to travel long distances to reach these centres. Even though it seems to have created discomfort among healthcare professionals, with a lot of them attending any CME seminar even if it not related to their field just to earn credit points it is evident that CME has a great influence on the medical field. If it taken in a positive light then the doctors can lower the cost of patient care and provide better services to the people.
ONLINE MODE OF CME
CME has been present in the countries for a long time and its effectiveness in the medical field cannot be ignored. The main problem faced by the health professionals is the time which is utilised to participate in these programmes. To solve this problem, an online based CME has been introduced which has proven to be as effective as attending offline. Studies conducted in US shows that this mode of conducting CME is effective as the number of participants have been more than the participants in the offline mode. The findings have indicated that the participants were making better clinical choices. This has been implemented in India too by Omnicuris, an online platform which conducts CME programmes and awards credit points to those who attend them. In developing countries like India, the ratio of doctors to patients is extremely low hence they can’t afford to lose valuable time in attending offline lectures. This way is the only step forward to save time and provide better services to the people.
Health professionals are slowly understanding the importance of CME in their field. Discussions about new methods to perform surgeries to new drugs in the market, these programmes have given a way to these professionals to progress ahead. The negative impact of these programmes is undue influence of industries using these programmes for their own profit. This can be avoided if the industries influence in conducting CME programmes is stopped. So instead of large 5-star conference rooms funded by these industries, the programmes can be conducted in small rooms or online mode.
CME is a relatively old concept as CPD has become the norm in various countries. This will improve the quality of health professionals to a great extent. These can be better regulated in developing countries with stricter rules and regulations. The influence of CME in the medical field is enormous, better rules can yield better results.
 Sheryl Spithoff, The College of Family Physicians of Canada, The National Centre for Biotechnology Information,2014.
 Appendix C International Comparison of Continuing Education and Continuing Professional Development, The National Centre for Biotechnology Information,2010.