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ACCME Commendation Criteria Review: Engages Teams

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 underly 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.

In previous posts, we have reviewed the core criteria that all accredited providers must meet. But many providers do more than that minimum requirement, so the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) created commendation criteria. Recently, the commendation criteria were revised into a menu, so providers are no longer required to meet every single one of these extra criteria to be deemed "Accredited with Commendation." Under the updated Menu of Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation, providers select the eight criteria that best fit their program. These criteria are goals to keep in mind when planning education, even if it might not be possible to meet all of the standards required to count towards that magic eight.

In this post about the ACCME's update to their accreditation criteria, I described the menu and its groupings of criteria. The first grouping is Promotes Team-Based Education. It consists of three criteria: Engages Teams, Engages Patients/Public, and Engages Students. Today we will focus on the first one.

This criterion (formerly C23) states the following:

Members of interprofessional teams are engaged in the planning and delivery of interprofessional continuing education (IPCE).

Why is this important? Quite simply, health care is a team sport. Doctors don't work alone. They work with nurses, medical assistants, PAs, hospital administrators, pharmacists, radiologic technologists (rad techs), and more. Each member of the team serves a specific role, but they need to be able to work together to provide the best patient-centered, evidence-based care.

But first we need to understand the difference between interprofessional and multi-professional.

A lot of times we do activities that are multi-professional. We design an activity for CME credit with a focus on what doctors need, and then we say that everyone else on the team is welcome to attend. The audience is filled with a variety of professions, but the education wasn't really designed for everyone. There are multiple professions, but they aren't working together and learning about each other.

In order for an activity to be interprofessional, it must be education that is designed by the team for the team. We can see this in the critical elements that must be met to achieve this criterion.

  • The planning committee must be representative of the target audience. This means an activity targeted at a team of doctors, nurses, and rad techs should be planned by a committee that includes a doctor, a nurse, and a rad tech
  • The faculty must be representative of the target audience. Our hypothetical activity should not have a panel of doctors. The rest of the team should be on the panel, too.
  • The activity should be designed to change the team, not the individual. We're used to asking an individual how they are going to change their practice. We need to keep doing that, but we also need to ask about their team and how they will interact with their team. After this activity, do doctors and nurses have a better understanding of where rad techs fit on their team? Do learners plan to change how they communicate with members of their team? Are they going to recommend their team members engage in this or similar education? Depending on the CME program, it may be difficult to measure specific teams, but we can still assess the efficacy of an activity by asking individual learners about their teams.

In order to achieve this criterion, a minimum of 10% of activities should meet these three elements. Whether or not that standard can be met, these elements should still be kept in mind when planning. Even if your activities are multi-professional, planning them with an interprofessional framework will make them more effective for the nurses and rad techs and hospital administrators in the audience. Even if the activity isn't technically interprofessional, asking learners if and how this has changed how they'll interact with their teams can be useful. Maybe the specific information from the activity won't change the team, but asking the question serves as a reminder that the team exists and that the learner doesn't need to apply these new skills and strategies alone. Engaging the team at every level of the process is ideal, but striving to meet this standard will make a difference.

Other Posts in This Series
CME Mission and Program Improvement Educational Planning and Evaluation References

ACCME (2020). Accreditation Criteria. Available at:

ACCME (2021). Engages Teams. Available at: 

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