The University of Utah School of Medicine Office of Continuing Medical Education (CME) recently earned the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) highest level of certification, “Accreditation With Commendation.”
“It’s a big deal in the continuing medical education world to get the Accreditation with Commendation,” said Richard Wiggins, MD, associate dean for the U’s CME office. The CME office helps physicians and other health care workers with their continuing education requirements, and to meet their accreditation status, Wiggins said.
The higher ACCME accreditation is the result of a rigorous two-year process, said Marci Fjelstad, MPH, MBA, CHCP, the associate director for the U’s CME office. To earn it, the U had to demonstrate its compliance with the ACCME’s rules, as well as provide detailed information on its CME activities.
“Our office is in charge of making sure that we’re in compliance with the rules that the ACCME sets out,” she said. “And the ‘With Commendation’ part means that we’re going above and beyond what’s required.
“We work with educators throughout the University of Utah and other providers to provide excellent educational activities for health care professionals so they can provide the best possible care,” Fjelstad said. “We want to be overachievers and innovators, and that’s what we got recognized for.”
As part of earning the higher status, the CME office demonstrated educational outcomes that resulted in real-world improvements for patients and the community. They showed the ACCME not only how providers were able to gain skills, but also how they improved care and diagnoses for patients and their caregivers.
The special ACCME commendation tells health care learners that the accredited CME they are engaging in is provided by an organization that excels and celebrates education; provides best practices in pedagogy, engagement, evaluation, and change management; and focuses on generating meaningful outcomes. It also demonstrates that the U’s educational activities are advancing interprofessional collaborative practice, addressing public health priorities, creating behavioral change, showing leadership, leveraging educational technology, and demonstrating the impact of education on health care professionals and patients.
Wiggins noted that Accreditation with Commendation status means the CME office is now on a six-year re-accreditation cycle, versus the standard four years. It is also one of the first programs to attain “With Commendation” status under new ACCME criteria.
“We are now recognized leaders in continuing education, teaching, and learning,” Wiggins said. “We are developing digital and distance learning, technology in education, and keeping the office at the forefront of the changing educational landscape.”