It took three years and more than 70 volunteers working thousands of hours, but now the continuing medical education profession has its first certification program. Participants celebrated the major accomplishment during a special event on October 21, held in conjunction with the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration annual conference in Baltimore.

“A small group of brave souls got together in Philadelphia a few years ago to talk about raising the CME bar,” said Jack Kues, PhD, CCMEP, president, National Commission for Certification of CME Professionals and assistant dean for CME, University of Cincinnati in Ohio. “Tonight is the culmination of a great deal of hard work,” he added before raising a champagne toast to the 103 “pioneers” who were the first to earn the Certified CME Professional designation.

One by one, the names of the 103 CME professionals who passed the beta test in May, and the first round of exams in June and September, were announced to hearty applause from the audience of fellow CCMEPs and supporters. Each newly credentialed professional received a plaque and a CCMEP lapel pin.

The certification program comes at a critical time, strengthening CME’s credibility in the face of heightened scrutiny and criticism from government agencies, Congress, and the press. “It’s an important first step in validating CME as a profession,” said Lawrence Sherman, CCMEP, NC-CME’s financial development chair and president and CEO, Physicians Academy, N.Y. “Everybody is a critic; this is how you combat the critics, by demonstrating your competence.”

“Certification can be the glue that holds the CME community together,” said Judith Ribble, PhD, CCMEP, who spearheaded the program and now serves as NC-CME’s executive director.

The next NC-CME exam will be available from December 13 to December 31 at 200 testing centers throughout the United States and Canada. The deadline for registering is November 30. For more information visit NC-CME.

For more about the program and how it works, watch for the December issue of Medical Meetings.