Currently, there is no mandatory certification for doctors to practice in any countries in South America. This means that a high percentage of doctors do not update their knowledge after they finish their medical school or post-graduate training. Medical societies are trying to implement physician certification. The problem is that there isn't an established mechanism for continuing education, and a lot of support is needed.

Last December, my company co-sponsored with Pfizer CELA (Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela Region) a one-day CME workshop in Cartagena, Colombia, for the presidents of the Colombian medical societies to educate them about how the system works in the States.

Our keynote speaker, Robert F. Orsetti, assistant vice president, continuing education, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, talked about the CME basics: the history, the players, accreditation issues, the Accreditation Council for CME, the Standards for Commercial Support, the PhRMA Code, and industry collaboration. During the afternoon session, I gave a speech on needs assessments and evaluation, based on sessions from the CME leadership conference I attended last fall at Duke University in Durham, N.C. During the interactive session at the end of the workshop, participants not only were interested in these issues, but more importantly, they understood the relevance of the certification process for academic CME. This was just a first step, but one that we hope will begin to lead us to a place where CME in South America will become more organized, regulated, and academic. This will improve physician knowledge and, we hope, also improve patient outcomes.
Gonzalo López, MD, director, Educación Médica Continua Ltda., Bogotá, Colombia