“Start with the end in mind when considering your options,” said Jackson.

1. What competency are you addressing?
If the core competencies outlined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education are important at the graduate level, should they not also be for CME? The American Board of Medical Specialties believes that they should apply to board-certified physicians. These competencies include not just medical knowledge and patient care and procedural skills, but also professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice. Once you know the competency, then you can match it to your format.

2. What are your intended outcomes or objectives?
“Use the Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid, which has a broad base of knowledge and rises through comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis, and peaks with evaluation, to figure out what you’re aiming for,” said Jackson. Then find action verbs you can use at each level to determine what format to use. (See chart for examples.)


3. How feasible is it to accomplish?

Can you actually do what you want to do? Does it need to be done on a national level, or could your goals be better accomplished with a local or regional activity? Do you have the financial and personal resources to pull it off? And who is your intended audience—physicians-only, multiple types of docs, clinical teams? Because topics often pull across several competencies, think about who needs to be involved in the planning, from CME staff to clinicians to quality-improvement professionals.

There are many ways to engage learners, using different models, formats, and design elements to enhance the instructional impact of the education, said Jackson and Geissel. Multimedia can enhance the learning experience. Providers should select elements for a specific project based on the competency to be addressed, the intended outcome, and feasibility limitations. When done strategically, providers can use these tools to increase engagement and improve the results of their educational activities.