What is the difference between CPD and CME?

What is the difference between CPD and CME?

06 Jun 2022

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Whether by professional body requirement or as a voluntary choice, almost every professional within the medical sector undertakes some form of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Doctors and other medical professionals have an essential accountability to remain competent wherever they practice in the world, irrespective of region and location.

Many countries have already established healthcare and medical industries, and it is expected that more and more countries will be taking proactive steps towards implementing a national CPD / CME framework for doctors, surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals within their borders.

As Continuing Professional Development or its acronym CPD, becomes a more internationally well-known phrase for learning, a question arises about the difference between CPD and CME. This informal article helps to outline the difference between CPD and CME, the benefits of completing ongoing professional learning and some simple tips on how to log your CPD hours / CME points effectively.

What is meant by CME and how does it differ to CPD?

CME is the abbreviated term for Continuing Medical Education. It is a term used to describe the medical-related educational activities that a professional in the healthcare and medical sector completes to enhance their career-related skills and abilities.

Whilst similar to Continuing Professional Development (CPD), CME is often more recognised as a component part of CPD. For instance, where CME may focus its learning towards specific medical and technical procedures, or medical regulation and legislative updates for examples, Continuing Professional Development is more widely recognised as the overriding and holistic term that defines the ongoing and overall improvement and competencies of the individual.

To help explain the difference between CPD and CME further, the General Medical Council states;

"Continuing Professional Development and Continuing Medical Education are frequently used interchangeably, most literature has now defined CME as being an ingredient of CPD. CPD is a process that includes continuing medical education. Many countries are now moving from a knowledge and skills-based CME system, towards a system that promotes the wide-ranging competencies needed to practice high-quality medicine."

General Medical Council

Different job roles within the healthcare and medical industry may require professionals to complete specific accrual of CME points or CPD hours each year as an obligation to their professional body. In either context, both Continuing Professional Development and CME exist to ensure that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing for individuals to continually progress or up skill in their careers.

Purpose of Continuing Medical Education

What is the purpose of CME / CPD?

Put simply, the purpose of CME / CPD is to provide a practical framework for medical professionals to improve their capability and to retain their competency to practice safely, effectively and legally within their evolving scope of their remit.

Completing CME / CPD training enables medical professionals to stay focused on short-term improvements which will have a positive effect on the work they carry out. Regular learning increases confidence and abilities, helping individuals to adapt to the necessary industry changes and requirements of patient care.

Completing CPD shows a clear commitment to self-development.

What is meant by CME/CPD points?

Participants that complete CPD / CME training activities are able to obtain CME points / CPD hours from the time spent in attendance. The question that arises ‘what is meant by CME points, and how do these relate to CPD hours?’ is simple to understand.

With an increasing number of both UK and international professional bodies, there will naturally be a split in terminology, which is easy to explain. It is generally considered that CME/CPD points, units and credits all relate to the same thing, and that is CPD Hours.

Definition of a CPD Hour

The definition of a CPD Hour is the time spent for a delegate to be in “active learning”. Active learning is the actual time spent learning something relevant for Continuing Professional Development objectives. A great example of this would be 1-day CPD accredited training course. If the training starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm, with a 1-hour break for lunch, the CPD Hours would be 7 CPD Hours.

As a general guide, it is estimated that approximately 95% of the professional bodies in the UK use CPD Hours as their Continuing Professional Development measure. Where the terms CME/CPD points, units or credits are used, these are in a typical in a 1:1 ratio with CPD Hours. By this, it is meant that typically 1 CME / CPD point would typically equal 1 CPD Hour.

How to record your CME points

How do you obtain a CPD/CME certificate of attendance?

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is widely recognised across all industries as an integral part to the improvement of individuals and organisations. Once a learner has attended or participated in any CPD or CME activity, such as, seminars, workshops, training courses, webinars or any other educational event, they can obtain a certificate of attendance.

The certificate should display the name of the attendee, title of the training completed, name of the CPD provider organisation, date, and the number of CPD hours the activity has taken to complete.

The individual would then log their CPD / CME certificate of attendance to their CPD personal record to show the further learning they have achieved for that year.

How to log and record your CME points / CPD hours

Recording your CME points / CPD hours on a regular basis makes it much easier to manage your annual Continuing Professional Development throughout the year. Keeping a regular track of the training you have attended, as well as the learning objectives and outcomes, enables a professional to reflect on what knowledge has been gained from the learning activity, and what can be implemented in day-to-day working patterns and objectives, as well as establish solid foundations as to what skillsets to develop next.

If you are a healthcare or medical professional and are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your CME or Continuing Professional Development, as well as store your personal training record and CPD attendance certificates in one simple place, please visit the myCPD Portal page.

CPD accreditation for training and events

The CPD Certification Service is the largest and leading CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. If you are considering becoming a CPD accredited training provider, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

CPD News Team

For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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