CME providers are facing stiff competition as the quality of proposals improves and grantors increase their scrutiny of funding requests to ensure that the proposed activities are compliant and based on a valid educational need. How can providers develop winning grant proposals? Let's separate myth from reality.

Myth No. 1: Providing a thorough overview of the therapeutic area in grant proposals is essential to demonstrating your organization's competence with the proposed educational content.

Reality: It depends. Grantors also struggle with information overload. Consider limiting the extensive overview for grantors with whom you've previously worked, or include that information as an attachment. For new grantors, this information may be crucial for demonstrating your organization's expertise in a therapeutic area. Be prepared to be flexible.

Use multiple sources to support the need; go beyond the typical literature search. Remember, planning (Accreditation Council for CME Essential Element 2.1; Updated Criteria #2) begins with a well-thought-out needs assessment.

Myth No. 2: Outlining Level 3 (physician learning) or Level 4 (changes to practice performance) educational outcomes measurements methodologies, as defined by Kirkpatrick's scale, in grant proposals will increase the likelihood that they will be approved.

Reality: The suggested outcomes measurements must be matched with the CME activity's identified need, educational design, and/or learning objectives. It's unlikely that an activity designed solely to build physician awareness will be able to demonstrate improvements in patient health. CME providers should set reasonable expectations for their proposed activities. Remember: Single activities are usually not sufficient to sustain physician learning. Instead, consider seeking funding for larger initiatives, but make certain that the activities are linked together; tie back to the need, learning objectives, and desired outcomes; and help create an education continuum for physicians.

Myth No. 3: Partnering with other CME stakeholders increases fees; therefore, grant proposals outlining such collaborations are generally rejected by grantors.

Reality: Often, grantors want to distribute funds among multiple providers to prevent the perception that funding is going to a select group. Also, collaboration expands providers' competencies, expertise, and educational reach. Before embarking on any partnership, identify the appropriate stakeholders based on the specific healthcare performance gap that the activity is designed to address. These working relationships are successful when all parties respect and recognize each other's roles, responsibilities, and boundaries. Ultimately, sharing a common commitment to educating physicians, improving patient care, and producing quality CME activities will help make for a winning grant proposal.

Ann C. Lichti is assistant director of operations, Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc., Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. She has worked in CME/CE and clinical research for six years. Reach her at ann.lichti@veritasime.com.

Julie A. Tagliareni is CME director, Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc. She has worked in CME/CE for more than five years. Reach her at julie.tagliareni@veritasime.com.

The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not constitute the views of Veritas Institute for Medical Education Inc.