Does requiring continuing education units for professional licensing renewal assure quality patient care?

Vaughn HT, Rogers JL, Freeman JK. Does requiring continuing education units for professional licensing renewal assure quality patient care? Health Care Manager 2006;25:78-84.
Abstract: Although most states in the United States require health care professionals to complete continuing education units (CEUs) for licensure renewal, little evidence to date has established a relationship between completing CEUs and clinical competency. Considering the high cost of health care delivery and services, it would be prudent for both managers and consumers of health care to review the costs and benefits of requiring CEUs for professional licensing renewal. This study features an extensive review of the literature to analyze the supportive as well as the opposing views of mandatory CEUs for professional license renewal. Most of the studies reviewed reported almost no relationship between participation in traditional continuing education courses and improved patient outcomes. Several recommendations evolved out of this study for improving patient outcomes following the attendance of continuing education courses. 

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One Response

  1. No disagreement here!
    In the early days of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Educaation, many of us took a stance against mandatory CME as a way to demonstrate meeting requirements for state relicensure. But it was an easy way out for state medical boards and state legislatures to say: “We are protecting our citizens by requiring that our physicians practice up-to-date medicine.”
    With the exception of New York State and a few smaller states, state legislatures have provided this false sense of security to residents. There are at least 2 ways to deal with this problem:
    1) State legislatures can repeal laws requiring CEUs and instead ask each professional society and licensing board to recommend standards, based on hospital and specialty board data, that would better relect ability to practice a profession, or
    2) Accreditation organizations can change measures of CEUs from time to performance-based data. This is already slowly happening in medicine. The American Academy of Family Physicians is providing credit for performance improvement and point-of-care CME, though giving double credit for evidence-based CME — which has no more merit in changing performance than does any CME. The AMA has similar new definitions of Cateogry 1 credit. Specialty boards are seeking ways to demonstrate competence.
    Of the 2 approaches, I prefeer the second. It is controlled by the profession and leaves the politicians out of the equation. For licensing purposes, credit requirements can remain the same. The credits are simply redefined in terms of performance improvement ranther than hours.

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