When it comes to educating faculty about the Accreditation Council for CME's updated accreditation criteria, CME providers must translate the guidelines in a way that makes sense.

Faculty have a vested interest in complying with the criteria but can become overwhelmed if CME providers blanket them with forms and checklists filled with unfamiliar jargon. Start by identifying faculty's expectations in each CME activity during the planning stages and work with them to ensure that their objectives, as well as yours, are met. Is there a specific ACCME criterion your activity will address? How does this match what the faculty hope to accomplish? Sometimes CME providers have larger expectations for an activity than are achievable. Although a needs assessment may have uncovered three or four areas requiring educational reinforcement and several of the ACCME criteria that could be addressed, faculty know their peers and understand what is actually realistic to teach them given the activity's educational design and scope. Most CME activities are successful at achieving one or two objectives and demonstrating immediate learning. Remember: ACCME's updated Criterion 5 requires that providers choose educational formats that are appropriate for the setting, objectives, and desired results of the activity. By working with your faculty to establish reasonable expectations for each CME activity, this criterion can be met.

Breaking Barriers

There are clinical realities that present barriers for a CME activity's early adoption by physicians. Criterion 18 tasks CME providers with identifying such roadblocks. In addition to working with faculty to address an activity's educational needs, ask them to identify one or two barriers to implementation. If these are beyond the provider's control, consider ways to address or eliminate them through collaboration with other stakeholders (Criterion 20). This can help tie the activity and the provider's overall CME program into a larger framework of performance enhancement, quality assessment, and healthcare improvement — all addressed in ACCME's updated accreditation criteria.

Keep It Simple

It's important that CME providers simplify and clarify their internal processes for faculty, given their many clinical and academic responsibilities. When communicating with faculty in writing, use bulleted lists to outline deliverables and clearly identify the most critical items. Follow up verbal discussions in writing to avoid miscommunication; for example, provide reports after planning meetings/faculty teleconferences. Giving copies of pertinent information to each faculty member's assistant will help keep them on track. When in doubt, seek clarification; don't be afraid to ask questions. For those of you who aren't clinicians, do your own independent research to gain an understanding of the clinical issues and how they relate to the CME activity and relevant accreditation criteria before reaching out to faculty. This will minimize the number of your questions for them, respect their time, and ultimately help create a working relationship conducive to compliance.

Ann C. Lichti is vice president of Health Care Education Strategy for Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc., Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. She has worked in the healthcare industry (both CME/CE and clinical research) for six years. Reach her at ann.lichti@veritasime.com.