The American Medical Association's new international activity approval program, which went into effect February 1, stipulates that medical education providers must register their activity for recognition with the AMA before issuing AMA Physician's Recognition Award credit to non-U.S. licensed physicians. The policy enables the AMA to develop a database of activities approved for credit, allowing the various authorities in charge of CME around the world to verify information about credit awarded to physicians.

“We are trying to expand the market for high quality CME activities beyond the U.S., and to do that we need to have some structure,” explains Greg Paulos, associate director, continuing physician professional development, and director, CME strategic business development, AMA.

But some CME providers express concerns. “[We hope] that the AMA review process will not discourage U.S. CME providers from sharing our experience and expertise with our international colleagues,” says one provider with a regional medical association. “Most CME providers are working with minimal staff, and additional forms and processes may fall victim to time and resource management. It would be unfortunate to have to tell an international physician that we can only provide a certificate of attendance since we were not able to have our program pre-approved to award AMA Category 1 credit.”

Paulos acknowledges that the policy requires extra work. However, he adds that the AMA is available to help providers through the process.

Another concern is that the time frame — applications must be sent in 30 days before the event — is difficult for Internet CME providers. The AMA needs 30 days for its review process, Paulos responds, but he says that CME providers can apply for international credit approval after the activity is online. “Once you hear from us, you can start issuing the credit to international physicians,” he says.