How Physicians Can Stay Current with CME

August 26, 2011

There are several ways that physicians can choose to keep themselves current regarding the literature, changing practice recommendations, etc.

The question of how I stay current with CME was asked to me by one of the physicians on our hospital's medical staff just earlier this week. Certainly there are several ways that physicians can choose to keep themselves current regarding the literature, changing practice recommendations, etc. I will list some of my favorite methods of keeping my CME current. Some are included with regular memberships and some have an additional annual fee. There are several "throw away" journals available and many have decent websites to view digital media as well.

I am a Fellow in the AAFP. By keeping my AAFP membership active, I am able to receive print and digital copies of American Family Physician. This is a really good journal that has very relevant articles and content for my practice. The CME is good as well. Reviewing a typical bi-weekly journal can allow you to earn between 3 to 5 CME credits. In the past, I would cut out the articles from the print journal and save them to read when I had free time and send in the CME answer card. However, since my office and home are both repositories for PCs and iPads, I choose to view my AFP journals in the digital format. This has at least two nice advantages. First, you are able to review the content from any PC or tablet that has Internet connectivity. Second, it is nice to be able to view the articles only and skip the advertising. For my routine review, the AFP is an absolute must.

The Family Practice Management journal is also a good source of information and CME as well. Since I am the solo owner of my private practice, staying current with the best practices in practice management is an absolute must for keeping my business viable. FPM has very good reviews regarding relevant ICD-9 and CPT changes. The past several issues have been stuffed full of content regarding meaningful use and have been very informative. This journal is published 10 times per year and you are able to gain 3 to 5 CME credits after successfully submitting each quiz.

A very good source available by subscription is The Prescriber's Letter and best of all, this source is completely free of commercial bias. This monthly review was provided to me while I was in residency and I chose to keep my subscription active when moving into private practice. This review is updated monthly and is available in both print and digital formats. A particularly nice feature of TPL is a free application available for download in the iTunes store for your iPhone and iPad. This makes reading the current issue extremely easy to do and the quiz is incorporated at the end of each article. Regular review of TPL can allow you to earn 1 CME per month. The annual cost for TPL is just under $99 per year.

Another good source of unbiased information just like The Prescriber's Letter is UpToDate.com. One of my IM attendings in residency was particularly fond of UTD and he would very politely lend his login and password to us to use while we were rotating on his service. UTD allows you to earn 0.5 CME credits per search. The content is peer reviewed and the quality is unmatched, in my humble opinion. Just last week, UTD posted a free app for download on the iTunes store for the iPhone and a more robust app for the iPad is forthcoming. I usually have a total of 150 to 200 CME credits annually from UTD and a portion of these credits can be applied to the elective CME requirement for the AAFP. If there is a negative to using UTD, I would say it would be the cost. At present the annual subscription fee for physicians is just under $500 per year. UTD also provides a free source of information for patients to view as well.

Last but not least, I cannot leave out our host website PhysiciansPractice.com. Not only is the content of the blogs superior, the regular updates for practice management, technology reviews, and most popular articles for a certain time period all are nice features. The best feature of Physicians Practice is the price - absolutely free.

For those of us in very busy clinical practices, staying up to date with the latest practice trends is an absolute must. Certainly there are several sources of very good content available at our fingertips. Also, do not forget those nice CME conferences that have tropical locations. However you choose to stay current, be mindful of the total costs and only trust reputable sites.

For more on J. Scott Litton and our other Practice Notes bloggers, click here.