As we reported in the February 6 edition of MM's e-newsletter, Medical Meetings Extra, the issue of whether or not CME providers should be certified was a hot topic of discussion at this year's Alliance for CME annual meeting. A reader responded by e-mailing MM's editor to tell her that the state of Florida offers a lot more than orange groves and sunny beaches — it also offers a certification program for its CME professionals.

The Florida Medical Association, which is recognized by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education as an approved accreditor for Florida medical organizations that provide AMA Category 1 credit, decided about 10 years ago that those who work for FMA-accredited providers should have the opportunity to be certified as professionals in their industry.

Florida and Georgia Radiation Oncology Group Director Shyam Paryani, MD, was in on the ground floor of this program. “We were going through the process of getting our CME program accredited at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville about 10 years ago, and I asked so many questions and got so involved that [FMA officials] asked me to join the accreditation committee,” he says.

“We hold an annual, one-day meeting in Orlando that provides individual CME coordinators with the information they need on rules relating to commercial support, disclosure, how to plan the meeting properly, and how to properly grant CME to participants,” he says. Following the educational conference, participants take an exam on the FMA accreditation guidelines, including the ACCME's Essential Areas and Their Elements, and the FMA Policies and Procedures for Intra-State Accreditation. Those who pass the exam with a minimum score of 70 percent — usually between 60 and 70 people a year — are granted certification for two years.

“The purpose is that they not only can go back knowing the material they need to administer their programs appropriately, but they can demonstrate that they know it,” he says. “An added benefit is that they generally receive recognition from their institutions that they know the rules and policies regarding CME and Florida's accreditation system.”

While individuals involved in CME aren't required to become certified, “we highly recommend it,” says Paryani. “The examination proves you've done the work you need to do.”

Not many other states are providing a formal individual provider certification program — “It takes time and dedication to set it up and administer it,” he adds — but it's well worth the effort. Paryani adds, “I would encourage all educational planners to contact the FMA. We'd be happy to get them started in the right direction.” For more information, contact the FMA at (800) 762-0233.