In its current form, CE consists primarily of didactic activities that are not always related to clinical settings or patient outcomes. Lectures and conference sessions, long the mainstay of CE, remain the most commonly used CE methods (see Figure 2-1). For physicians, courses and regularly scheduled series (e.g., grand rounds) account for 44.1 percent of total reported activities conducted by providers accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and 88.1 percent of total activities presented by providers accredited by state medical societies (ACCME, 2008). More than 82 percent of total hours of instruction are in the form of courses or series.

The committee made a concerted effort to incorporate data regarding methods of CE delivery from all health professions; however, the data collected for most professions are not robust and are not always reported in comparable formats. Consequently, publicly available data on pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, physical therapy, and other allied health professions’ CE are much more limited than in medicine.

In 2007-2008, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredited 36,569 activities. Of these, 53 percent were “live activities,” 46 percent were home study, and 11 percent were Internet activities.1 The category of live activities includes lectures, symposia, teleconferences, workshops, and webcasts, but the percentage of each of these activities is unknown. For licensed social workers, survey participation rates provide some insight into the types of CE most often used (Table 2-1). Social workers, like physicians and pharmacists, often participate in formal, didactic workshops. Informal CE activities such as peer consultation, which may not be counted for CE credit by state licensing boards, are the methods most believed by social workers to change their practice behavior (Smith et al., 2006). In many health professions, journal reading is a commonly used avenue to complete CE credits.

CE providers are increasingly using an expanding variety of CE methods. A 2008 survey of academic CME providers found an “increasing diversity” of offerings beyond traditional, didactic conferences, courses, and lectures (Kues et al., 2009, p. 21). CE programs more often use multiple educational methodologies (e.g., interaction, experiential learning) and multiple educational techniques (e.g., questioning, discussion, coaching, role play). Table 2-2 provides a


Personal communication, D. Travlos, ACPE, June 2, 2009.

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