Continuing Medical Education receives reaccreditation for the next four years


By: Brianna Robinson

The Office of Continuing Medical Education in the College of Osteopathic Medicine recently earned reaccreditation from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME. With this honor, the college remains one of only six other colleges of osteopathic medicine to be dually accredited by the American Osteopathic Association and the ACCME for the next four years.

Continuing Medical Education, or CME, is a critical component of medical, graduate and clinical education as these efforts help track and submit additional education credits for faculty and clinical faculty that teach our medical students.

“As a result, clinicians and teams can drive improvement in their practice and optimize the care, health and wellness of their patients,” said Meghan Tappy, director of CME at the medical college. “As an accredited CME provider, you can depend on our medical school to deliver safe, meaningful and relevant content without bias. We adhere to a national standard for planning, implementing and evaluating our programs to ensure that clinician education meets the highest values and always with patient outcomes in mind.”

ACCME is the accrediting organization that sets the standards for education to inspire learning, change and growth in health care. Their standards reflect the values of their educator community and respond to the evolving health care environment.

Having ACCME accreditation allows institutions to provide CME credit for allopathic physicians, or MDs, as accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association only allows for osteopathic physicians, or DOs, to receive CME credit. The AOA is the primary certifying institution for osteopathic physicians and one of the main accrediting agencies for all osteopathic medical schools.

Physicians use CME credit to demonstrate that they have participated in educational activities that were designed to maintain, develop or increase their knowledge, skills and professional performance. Health care professionals that attend CME activities see the benefits as it is required to maintain medical licensure and certification.

“As a college, we have a long history of providing AOA approved CME to osteopathic physicians and are proud to continue to do so,” said Kirsten Waarala, associate dean for medical education. “The additional accreditation by ACCME will allow the college to sponsor CME credit for allopathic physicians as well, especially those associated with our affiliated residency programs and clerkship sites.”

With the college’s new accreditation, the CME office will be able to offer dual accreditation for its activities. Currently, the CME office implements 13 – 18 manual medicine courses and three to five conferences focused on primary care topics annually for credit.  

“Having a strong compliant ACCME accredited office is essential in the world of continuing medical education,” said Kailee Ford, continuing medical education compliance coordinator. “The CME team has worked diligently maintaining ACCME compliance throughout our programs and have doubled the amount of activities since becoming accredited.”

However, as time went on during the pandemic, the team faced many challenges. COVID-19 had caused the office to cancel multiple conferences and manual medicine courses, leaving physicians to search for other forms of credit.

“The pandemic brought our office to a screeching halt and put us in a rather frightening position,” Tappy said. “We have always offered most of our educational activities as in-person conferences because first, the physicians appreciated the opportunity to interact with each other and second, that was the most common way to disseminate new information.”

Working remotely enabled the director and her team to take a step back and re-evaluate how to continue providing quality CME credit, moving many of the activities online all while being audited by the ACCME.

The initial accreditation process took about 14 months. After being granted provisional accreditation, Tappy spent the next two years applying the accreditation criteria to the activities provided by her office, working with a very limited group of outside organizations until the pandemic forced the process to go virtual.

“The fact that we were putting the final touches on the documentation in the first few months of the pandemic made everything that much more stressful, as the future of CME as we knew it was changing drastically, Tappy said.  “My hope is that our college will become a leader in continuing medical education – to be the first stop, for both allopathic and osteopathic physicians in the state of Michigan, for quality CME.”

Currently, the CME office is offering virtual educational opportunities for physicians, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, pharmacists and other allied health care professionals that enable them to better diagnose, treat, manage and educate their patients. By going to their home page, physicians can view current course offerings by clicking on “MY CME PORTAL.”

“I want our office to play a role in improving patient care,” Tappy said. “I hope to create new partnerships with hospitals and specialty organizations – to work with them to accredit their CME activities and to help them become leaders in medical education as well. It all circles back to arming our physicians with the best education possible to benefit their patients.”