CME Glossary of Terms

The following definitions will help you in understanding the process of certifying your educational activity for CME credit through the Office of CME at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga (UTCOMC):


Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) - the organization that accredits other organizations to provide continuing medical education to physicians.


ACCME-accredited provider  OR  accredited provider - see provider


accreditation statement - a standardized statement that tells learners that the University of Tennessee College of Medicine is accredited to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  The accreditation statement is required to be on all promotional materials (except save-the-date notifications) and in some part of the program materials for your CME activity. 


activity medical director - the activity planner that is ultimately responsible for ensuring that a CME activity is planned, implemented, and evaluated in compliance with UTCOMC Office of CME policies.  The Activity Medical Director for a UTCOMC-certified CME activity must be an MD or DO.


activity coordinator - the activity planner that is responsible for coordinating the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a CME activity in accordance with UTCOMC Office of CME policies. 


agenda - the dates and times of your CME activity; include breaks, social events, etc in your agenda.


AMA credit statement - a standardized statement about CME credit that is required to be on all promotional materials (except Save-the-Date reminders) for a CME activity. Contact the Office of CME for the credit statement for your CME activity.


attendee - the learner in a live CME actiivty.


CME activity - an educational offering that is planned, implemented, and evaluated in accordance with the ACCME policies for continuing medical education activities.


CME policies - the rules and guidelines governing the planning, content or presentation, implementation & evaluation of a CME activity. These are communicated through the CME Credit Application and Activity Summary and the Commercial Independence form for Speakers.


CME provider - see provider.


commercial break - promotion of a commercial interest between educational sessions in the space where education takes place at a CME activity.


commercial independence form - a form completed by planners & speakers that contains policies and mechanisms for implementing a CME activity free from the influence of commercial interests.  The UTCOM has a Commercial Independence form for Planners and a Commercial Independence form for Presenters.


commercial interest - an entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients.  Hospitals and other providers of clinical service directly to patients are not considered to be commercial interests. 


commercial support - monetary or in-kind contributions given by a commercial interest that are used to pay all or part of the costs of a CME activity.  (Exclusions: Money given from organizations that do not meet the definition of a commercial interest is not considered commercial support, and advertising income and exhibiting income are also not considered commercial support.)  The requirements for receiving and managing commercial support are explained in the Commercial Support section of the CME Credit Application


competence - the ability to apply knowledge, skills, or judgment in practice.


conference - a single, live CME activity.


conflict of interest - when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content about products or services of a commercial interest with which he/she has a financial relationship.


continuing medical education (CME) - learning activities to help physicians & other medical professionals maintain and/or increase their knowledge, competence, performance and patient outcomes.  CME must be unbiased by commercial interests, evidence-based, and free from promotion (educational; not promotional),


course - a CME activity that is designated for credit as a single activity (can be offered multiple times). Examples include an annual meeting, conference, symposium, etc or a course taken via booklet or online. Physician learners should not typically receive CME credit multiple times in the same year for re-taking a course. 


credit declaration form - a form used by learners to indicate which educational sessions they attended. 


directly-sponsored - a CME activity that is planned, implemented, and evaluated by the accredited provider


disclosure - the act of providing information in order to make a CME activity as transparent and balanced as possible.  For your CME activity, three variables must be disclosed to the UTCOM and to the audience: 1) the relevant financial relationships (or lack thereof) of all providers of educational content, 2) any commercial support received for the activity, and 3) discussion of "off-label" use.  Disclosure must be provided to the Office of CME via the Commercial Independence forms and to learners verbally and in writing prior to the education.


educational curriculum - the content that is taught at your CME activity. Your educational curriculum results from the educational topics, educational formats, and providers of educational content that you choose for your CME activity.


educational format - the method of delivery for your educational content.  Examples include lecture/didactic, case discussion or study, panel discussion, hands-on workshop, break-out session, journal club, question & answer session, enduring material, etc.


educational topic - the subject or theme of an educational session at a CME activity.


educational material - presentation slides, handouts, and other materials used to educate or supplement education at a CME activity.


educational needs - the education that is necessary to improve your target audience's professional practice.  Educational needs should improve the knowledge, competence, and/or performance of your audience. The educational needs answer the question, "What education will help fill the professional practice gap(s) you identified?".


enduring material - an activity that is printed, recorded, or accessible on a computer and does not have a specific time or location designated for participation.  Rather, the participant determines when and from where to complete the activity.


evaluation - a form used by learners to provide feedback on a CME activity. The Activity Medical Director and Activity Coordinator for a CME activity are required to administer an evaluation to learners.


evidence-based - The term evidence-based in continuing medical education means that a) all recommendations involving clinical medicine must be based on evidence that is accepted within the profession of medicine as adequate justification for their indications and contraindications in the care of patients and that b) all scientific research referred to, reported, or used in support or justification of a patient care recommendation must conform to the generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection & analysis.


expenses - the costs associated with a CME activity.


financial relationship- a relationship where an individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria for promotional speakers’ bureau, ownership interest (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit.


free from promotion - the content and presentation of CME activities must promote improvements or quality in healthcare and not the specific proprietary business interest of a commercial interest.


in-kind support - the loan or donation of equipment, supplies, or services.  In-kind support is considered commercial support whenever the entity providing it is a commercial interest, but it just considered a gift or donation (not commercial support) if the entity providing it is not a commercial interest by definition.


internet point-of-care learning activity - an activity in which the physician engages in self-directed, online learning on topics relevant to their clinical practice from a database whose content has been vetted by an accredited CME provider.


intra-activity CME policies - policies that govern the educational space during ("intra") a CME activity and ensure that it is free from commercial bias. The Intra-Activity CME Policies are as follows: 1) A commercial interest may not serve as the agent providing a CME activity to learners (e.g., arranging for electronic access to CME activities or distributing self-study CME activities). 2) Social events or meals may not compete with or take precedence over the educational event. 3) Disclosure must be provided to the audience for (a) the relevant financial relationships (or lack thereof) of all providers of educational content, (b) any commercial support received for the activity, and (c) any discussion of "off-label" use. 4) Promotional exhibits/activities/interactions, advertisements, and promotional materials are prohibited in the educational space immediately before, during, and after a CME activity. 5) Commercial breaks are prohibited. 6) Learners must be provided with an opportunity to evaluate the CME activity.


jointly-sponsored - a CME activity that is planned, implemented, and evalauted by the non-accredited entity and the accredited provider.


journal-based CME- a CME activity where the participant reads an article, engages in a self-directed activity (ie, reflection, discussion, or debate) based on the article, and then completes pre-determined questions or tasks related to the article. 


learner - the physician or medical professional being educated through a CME activity.


learning objectives - the educational goals for your CME activity. Your learning objectives answer the question, "What should learners be able to do after particpating in your CME activity?".  Learning objectives are created by identifying your target audience, identifying their specific professional practice gap(s), identifying some educational needs that will improve their professional practice in the desired ways, and developing objectives to provide that education. The process is illustrated here:

        target audience  →  professional practice gap  →  educational needs  →  learning objectives


live activity - an activity that is viewed as it occurs, as opposed to being recorded and shown later.


multi-conference series - a series of conferences that occur at irregular intervals and/or varying locations


"off-label" use - when medical drugs, devices, or services are used in ways that are not approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration.


participant - the learner in CME activity.


patient outcomes - the result of medical care for the patient.


performance - what a physician does in practice.


pre-activity CME policies - policies that govern the planning and preparation prior to a CME activity and ensure that it is free from commercial bias. The Pre-Activity CME Policies are as follows: 1) A commercial interest may not serve as the agent providing a CME activity to learners (e.g., arranging for electronic access to CME activities or distributing self-study CME activities). 2) Social events or meals may not compete with or take precedence over the educational event. 3) All planners, presenters, and anyone else in a position of control for a CME activity must complete a Commercial Independence form prior to (or immediately after) assuming their role for a CME activity. 4) Promotion of CME credit for an educational activity is prohibited until the CME Credit Application & Activity Summary has been approved by the Office of CME. 5) .


professional practice gap - the difference between your target audience's current professional practice and the ideal/desired/optimal professional practice in terms of knowledge, competence, performance, and/or patient outcomes. The professional practice gap(s) answers the question, "How is your target audience's current professional practice less than ideal - or how could it be better - in terms of its knowledge, competence, performance, and/or patient outcomes?"


program materials - the various materials (printed and/or digital) that are provided to learners and contain information about the program or activity as a whole.  The pieces of information that are commonly included in the program materials for a CME activity include: an overview of the activity, the learning objectives, the schedule or agenda, the Credit statement & Accreditation statement, biographical or CV information about the speakers/faculty, the relevant financial relationships (or lack thereof) for all speakers, disclosure of commercial support (or the lack thereof), & disclosure of any off-label uses discussed at the activity. 


promotional material - any material (printed or digital) that is used to promote a CME activity.  Common examples include brochures, postcards or mailers, announcements or invititations,  newsletters/E-newsletters, emails, webpages, advertisements, etc.


provider or CME provider- an organization accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education to physicians.  The University of Tennesee is an ACCME-accredited provider.


provider of educational content - the physician, medical professional, professional speaker, organization, website, or other source that you use to provide the educational material taught at your CME activity.  A speaker is the most common type of educational content provider for CME activities.  All providers of educational content must complete a Commercial Independence form.


regularly-scheduled series (RSS) - a live CME activity with multiple, ongoing sessions that are offered weekly, monthly, quarterly, or at another regular interval and discuss a different topic at each session.  Examples include grand rounds, tumor conferences and other patient case review conferences, journal clubs, etc.  RSS's are often primarily planned by and presented to the provider's professional staff. 


relevant financial relationship - a financial relationship in any amount occurring within the past 12 months that creates a conflict of interest.


save-the-date - a promotional material (printed or digital) that only gives basic information such as the date, topic, & speaker name about a CME activity.


standards for commercial support - policies established by the ACCME that govern a CME activity and ensure that it is independent from control by commercial interests.


target audience - the physicians and medical professionals you seek to educate through your CME activity.  For a CME activity, this is always medical doctors (M.D.'s) and/or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.'s), but your target audience should identify a niche such as primary care physicians, surgeons, OB/GYN physicians, etc.


unbiased - unaffected; not under the influence of.  In CME, the term 'unbiased' is typically used to mean free from the control of commercial interests.  The following aspects of your CME activity must be free from control of a commercial interest: a) identification of needs, b) determination of educational objectives, c) selection and presentation of content, d) selection of all persons and organizations that will be in a position to control the content of the CME, e) selection of the educational methods, and f) evaluation of the activity.


UTCOM - The University of Tennessee College of Medicine


UTCOMC - The University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga


venue- the facility or media (eg, Internet) that will host your CME activity.







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