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ACCME Commendation Criteria Review: Addresses Population Health

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.

The second set of ACCME commendation criteria are grouped around addressing public health priorities. In the last post we looked at how to use CME to "Advance Data Use." Today we'll cover the second of this set of criteria.

Addresses Population Health (formerly C27) states:

The provider addresses factors beyond clinical care that affect the health of populations. 

As a Master of Public Health (MPH), this criterion is near and dear to my heart. Frequently there is a disconnect between medicine, which is focused on individual patients, and public health, with its focus on the population as a whole. But we can't have one without the other. Health departments can promote the efficacy of vaccinations, but it's the pediatrician a parent turns to for counsel on their safety. At the same time, a physician can tell a patient to eat more vegetables, but if that patient lives in a food desert, a so-called lack of compliance might stem from a much larger issue than that of the single patient's choices. That is what this criterion is about: What is the link between clinical care and public health?

There is only one critical element in this criterion.

  • A subset of activities must include strategies that can be used to improve public health.

To achieve this criterion, that subset is a minimum of 10% of an accredited provider's activities. While this might seem significant at first glance, it's important to note what the critical element is asking for. We aren't asked to measure public health or prove that an educational activity has made a difference in a population we may not be able to track. We are asked to teach strategies, be it ways to address health disparities or how to advocate for changes to the healthcare system. Public health is a long game with a lot of players, and the ACCME does not expect an individual activity or accredited provider to be able to make a measurable difference, but by adding this focus into activity planning, a provider can help to drive change and make their community a healthier place to live.

Other Posts in This Series

CME Mission and Program Improvement

Educational Planning and Evaluation

Promotes Team-based Education

Addresses Public Health Priorities


ACCME (2020). Accreditation Criteria. Available at:

ACCME (2021). Addresses Population Health. Available at:

Image credit: Edward Boatman. Licensed under CC0 1.0

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