European countries are choosing continuing professional development, or CPD, rather than CME as their method for educating healthcare professionals. That was one of the major trends discussed at the eighth annual Global Alliance for Medical Education conference held June 22 to 24 at the Westin New York at Times Square. The meeting attracted 118 attendees and speakers from around the world to explore global developments in CME.

CPD is a broader concept than CME, explained speakers, covering managerial, social, and personal issues, as well as medical topics. In other words, CPD focuses more on what doctors do, while CME focuses on what they know, said Edwin M. Borman, chairman, international committee, British Medical Association, and lead author of the European Union of Medical Specialists' 2001 Basel Declaration, which defined CPD.

While CME usually addresses the symptoms, prevention, treatment, and prognosis of disease, “we all know that to be able to function as a doctor you need many social and personal skills that we seldom address in a systematic way,” said Hans Asbjorn Holm, MD, associate chief executive, Norwegian Medical Association, Oslo. CPD addresses those areas, teaching topics such as the psychology of individuals and groups, communication skills, empathy, ethical and political norms and values, and the norms and values of patients and their local environments, Holm explained.

Some U.S. attendees expressed surprised that there was so much discussion about CME vs. CPD. “While in Europe, CPD is seen as the way to go, there seems to some reluctance in the United States to get out of the box, stop doing CME, and do CPD,” said one participant.

As to whether CPD and recertification should be mandatory or voluntary, different countries are adopting a variety of strategies. Many European medical organizations, including the European Union of Medical Specialists, have said that there is no need for mandatory recertification, but there still is a strong commitment to education in CPD.

For more on global CME trends, see “CME Standards, Euro Style,” page 20.

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