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ACCME Commendation Criteria Review: Utilizes Support Strategies

Whether you are an accredited provider such as i3 Health or you are an educational partner working with an accredited provider, it's still important to understand the criteria that underlie continuing medical education (CME) activities. This is part of a periodic series of posts looking at what each criterion means in general and what it might mean for you.

"Enhances Skills" is the third set of ACCME commendation criteria. In this post, we'll look at the fourth and final criterion in this group.

"Utilizes Support Strategies" (formerly C32) states:

The provider utilizes support strategies to enhance change as an adjunct to its CME.

We tend to think of CME as what happens in the classroom. It's a lecture or a hands-on training. It starts and ends at the doorway. It is generally true that the accredited portion of CME is in an enclosed space, be it a classroom or an online module. But we are as concerned about what happens after a physician leaves the learning space as we are about what happens within the learning space. If all has gone as planned, a learner should leave with new skills and strategies and a goal to make some sort of change in their practice.

One way to make the classroom learning stick once physicians are back in practice is to provide some sort of support strategies that they can take with them. These can be new electronic health record (HER) reminders such as a note to make sure a provider talks about smoking cessation. They can be new checklists. Or they can be supplemental resources. This criterion is about all of those strategies that a CME provider shares for learners to reference or use long after the accredited portion of the activity has concluded.

There are 2 critical elements in this criterion.

  • You need to use support strategies such as those described above
  • You need to periodically conduct a review and analysis of whether or not your support strategies are effective

To achieve this criterion, a minimum of 10% of your activities must meet these 2 critical elements. The 1 caveat on that is for small programs who must have at least 2 activities, even if that is more than 10% of their activities. Depending on the size of your program, the ACCME will ask to see examples of between 2 and 8 activities.

The first part of this criterion is fairly simple. It is not uncommon for an activity to include handouts or lists of online resources. The tricky part is the analysis. But as CME providers, we already evaluate other aspects of our programs, so this is just a matter of expanding the boundary of what we evaluate to include those support strategies. A 90-survey could ask not only what changes a learner has implemented, but also whether or not they've used support strategies, and if so, how useful those strategies have been. That information can then be used to revise the sort of strategies provided.

The goal of CME is to help learners change their practice. By meeting this criterion, you're providing the support your learners may need to do just that.

Other Posts in This Series CME Mission and Program Improvement Educational Planning and Evaluation Promotes Team-based Education Addresses Public Health Priorities Enhances Skills References

ACCME (2020). Accreditation Criteria. Available at: https://www.accme.org/accreditation-rules/accreditation-criteria

ACCME (2022). Utilizes Support Strategies. Available at: https://www.accme.org/accreditation-rules/accreditation-criteria/utilizes-support-strategies 

Image credit; VideoPlasty and Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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