Frequently Asked Questions


What is CME?
Continuing Medical Education (CME) is defined as “educational activities that serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession” (source: ACCME and AMA). (top)
Who is the ACCME?
ACCME is the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and is the organization that sets the standards for the accreditation of all providers of CME activities. (top)
Who is the AMA?
The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. (top)
What types of activities qualify for CME/CE certification?
A wide variety of educational activities qualify for CME certification, including, but not limited to:
  • Lectures and meetings in which learners are physically or remotely present.
  • “Enduring Materials” - CME activities based on recorded or published content (i.e., printed materials, CD-ROMs, audio CDs, DVDs, Internet presentations). (top)
What type of CME credit do physicians need?
AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ä is the most common type of credit physicians need for medical license maintenance. In order for an activity to be designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, it must be planned by an accredited CME provider (e.g., Duke University School of Medicine). Click here for additional information. (top)
What is the difference between Category 1 and Category 2 credit?
According to the North Carolina Medical Board, Category 1 CME activities are:
  • Formally planned activities that include documentation of acceptable needs assessment, learning objectives, educational design, an evaluation method, and disclosure.
  • Planned and implemented in full compliance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support
  • Prospectively certified for credit by an ACCME-accredited CME Provider.
Category 2 "self claim" credits are:
  • Informally planned physician-initiated activities such as practice-based self-study, consultations with colleagues, teaching, M&M conferences, journal clubs, etc.
  • The Duke Office of CME is not involved with planning, certifying, or tracking Category 2 activities.
  • The North Carolina Medical Board provides a form that can be downloaded for your use in tracking physician-initiated activities. (top)
What is the cost of CME/CE certification?
The cost of certifying your activity for CME/CE credit depends on:
  • Type of activity (joint/co vs. directly sponsored, live vs. enduring, 1 hour vs. 5-day, etc).
  • Number of credit hours
  • Number of educational grants involved
  • Number of Faculty (speakers, authors, etc)
  • Estimated number of participants/learners

A separate School of Medicine certificate issuance fee is charged for all non-Duke learners (note: there is no fee for Duke learners). (top)
How do I obtain CME/CE credit for my activity?
Contact the Duke Office of CME at 919.401.1200 or to discuss your activity. See also 8 Easy Steps to CME Certification (for conferences, enduring materials, etc.) or 6 Easy Steps to Certification of RSCs (for Regularly Scheduled Conferences). (top)
What is the difference between direct, joint, and co-sponsorship?
Direct Sponsorship: A CME activity that the Duke Office of CME (DOCME) develops and implements with another Duke Department. (top)
Jointly Sponsorship: A CME activity that is developed and implemented by two institutions or organizations and only one of the institutions or organizations is accredited by the ACCME. The accredited provider (e.g., Duke University School of Medicine) must take responsibility for a CME activity when it is presented in cooperation with a non-accredited institution or organization. A commercial interest cannot take the role of non-accredited entity in a joint sponsorship relationship (Source: ACCME).
Co-sponsorship: A CME activity presented by two or more accredited providers. One institution must take responsibility for the activity. (top)
Why do CME grant agreements need to indicate “Duke University School of Medicine” and not “Duke University Medical Center”?
The official accredited CME provider is the Duke University School of Medicine (see also ACCME Standard 3.4). (top)
How can I obtain information about an activity that is being certified by the Duke Office of CME?
Visit the “Live Activities Calendar” or “Self-Study Activities” sections on our home page ( If the activity is not listed, call us at 919/401-1200. (top)
Why do CME faculty (speakers, presenters, moderators, activity medical directors, authors, planning committee member, etc) have to complete a CME disclosure form?
The ACCME requires CME providers (i.e., Duke Office of CME) to require everyone who is in a position to control the content of an educational activity to disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest(s) in order to prevent potential bias in the educational content. Click here to review the ACCME’s definition of ’relevant’ financial relationships. Click here to review ACCME Standards 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3). (top)
Is it okay for a pharmaceutical sales representative to bring in food for a grand rounds session?
No, pharmaceutical sales representatives or representatives of medical product/device manufacturers cannot pay directly for the food. However, they can provide an educational grant to the Duke Department in support of the food costs (see ACCME Standard 3). (top)
A pharmaceutical company has offered to provide an educational grant to cover the speaker's honorarium, but they will "take care of the speaker's travel." Is this okay?
No, the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support require that all support from commercial interests be provided to the accredited CME provider in the form of an educational grant (see ACCME Standards 3.8 and 3.9). (top)
Can a pharmaceutical company choose who will speak at my department’s meeting?
No, it is up to the Activity Medical Director to select appropriate topics and speakers for their CME activity based upon the target audience's educational needs. The Activity Medical Director can request a Speaker List from a pharmaceutical representative and then select an appropriate speaker and topic from the list. The Activity Medical Director should then communicate with the chosen speaker and delineate the learning objectives he/she would like the speaker to address (see ACCME Standard 1.1). (top)
A pharmaceutical company has provided an educational grant to support a grand rounds session that is certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. The company has signed a grant agreement to cover the meeting expenses; one of the sales representative wants to give a short presentation on the company's newest product at the beginning (or end) of the session…is this allowed?
No, CME providers cannot allow representatives of Commercial Interests to engage in sales or promotional activities while in the space or place of the CME activity (see ACCME Standard 4.3). (top)

Why do I have to obtain patient authorization or de-identify information for my CME presentation?
In response to growing concerns about keeping health information private, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The legislation includes a privacy rule that creates national standards to protect individuals' personal health information. HIPAA allows healthcare providers to utilize patient information, without authorization, in teaching activities involving Duke faculty, staff, and medical trainees. When other individuals may be present at a conference (for example, college students visiting for a day or physicians and nurses from a private practice) patient authorization must be obtained OR information de-identified. The items considered to be identifiers by the federal government and therefore to be removed are extensive—basically anything that could tie the medical information to an individual—including, but not limited to name, address, social security and medical record number, picture of face, any date associated with the individual (admission, discharge, birth, death), and implanted device serial numbers. WHENEVER POSSIBLE, DE-IDENTIFY INFORMATION TO BE PRESENTED AT CONFERENCES. For additional information, visit or (top)

No, according to ACCME Standard 4.1, arrangements for commercial exhibits or advertisements cannot influence planning or interfere with the presentation, nor can they be a condition of the provision of commercial support for CME activities.  Anything that contains advertising or promotional opportunities must not be part of the educational activity and must not be paid for by the educational grant.  See "CME Guidelines Related to Educational Grants and Exhibit Space" for additional information.


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