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::CME: Keeping up to date ::

Dr Mahibur Rahman

This article was first published in 2005 and is reproduced with the kind permission of Hospital Doctor, who retain the copyright.

Graduating from medical school may represent the end of formal studies, but it marks the beginning of your real medical education. As doctors we continue to learn medicine right up to retirement - and often beyond. Dr Mahibur Rahman looks at Continuing Medical Education (CME) and how the busy doctor can effectively keep up to date.

CME - what's it all about?

CME consists of educational activities that serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance of a doctor or allied health professional. CME and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are often used interchangeably, although CPD can apply to any profession.

The importance of keeping up to date

Medicine is a rapidly evolving profession. Consequently, it is increasingly important for doctors to take part in lifelong learning in order to provide better care for their patients. In the current climate, it is not enough to participate in CME activities, doctors need to demonstrate that they are keeping their knowledge and skills up to date. One way to do this is to keep a folder of evidence detailing your learning activities. This could include certificates of attendance at medical meetings, a list of journal references you have read and details of any research activities. Increasingly this sort of information is used as part of a formal appraisal system, and will soon be mandatory for revalidation.

Learning opportunities

We are all continually taking part in CME activities, sometimes in a formal environment, more often informally on an ad-hoc basis. You can ensure that you get the most out of each learning opportunity by first assessing your learning needs, and then developing a plan of how to address these deficiencies. So if you feel that your abilities to manage a cardiac arrest could be improved, you might decide to attend an Advanced Life Support Provider course (planned formal learning). Sometimes learning needs are identified when you find yourself in a situation where your knowledge or skills are insufficient to treat a patient or carry out a procedure. You might address this by asking a colleague for advice , or looking up a guideline on the internet (ad-hoc informal learning). CME opportunities are everywhere if you know what you need to learn.

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