Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

What is Category 1 Continuing Medical Education?

Category 1 continuing medical education are courses or programs designated by the American Medical Association or the California Medical Association related to one of the following: patient care, community health or public health, preventive medicine, quality assurance or improvement, risk management, health facility standards, the legal aspects of clinical medicine, bioethics, professional ethics, or improvement of the physician-patient relationship.

How many continuing medical education hours are granted for passing a specialty board examination?

Any physician who takes and passes a certifying or recertifying examination administered by a recognized specialty board is granted credit for 100 Category 1 continuing medical education hours for four consecutive years.

Does the American Medical Association's Physician Recognition Award (PRA) meet the continuing medical education requirement?

To obtain a physician recognition award (PRA), a physician must participate in 150 hours of continuing medical education (CME) courses, of which 60 hours are approved Category 1. If more than 60 hours of Category 1 courses are obtained, a copy of the PRA application should be submitted to the Board to receive the appropriate amount of credit.

How can I claim continuing medical education hours for which I have no documentation?

The organization sponsoring the program must provide documentation that includes the participant's name, course title, dates of attendance, the sponsoring organization and accrediting agency name, and hours received. The Board cannot accept continuing medical education without verifying documents.

What if I cannot afford the cost involved in taking continuing medical education courses?

Hospitals have “lunch meetings” that are approved for Category 1 credit and offered to all physicians. Physicians having trouble finding Category 1 courses may call the California Medical Association (CMA) for assistance at (415) 882-5183. CMA has an article with suggested continuing medical education opportunities and is available upon request.

I have a California medical license, but I am currently in the military. Can the continuing medical education requirement be waived?

The law requires every military physician comply with the continuing medical education (CME) requirements. However, reasons of war or being aboard a ship for extended periods of time (several years) which may preclude a physician from participating in CME may be considered for a waiver. The Application for Waiver of Continuing Medical Education During Renewal Cycle form is available on the Board’s website.

I received a continuing medical education (CME) waiver for my last renewal period. How many CME hours must I complete by the next renewal?

If a continuing medical education (CME) waiver is granted for a renewal period, 100 approved CME hours must be completed by the next renewal.

Should I send continuing medical education documentation with my license renewal notice?

Continuing medical education (CME) documentation is only required if a physician is being audited. During a license renewal, the physician must complete the self-certification statement on the renewal application form and return it to the Board with the renewal payment.

If I am audited, do I have to show proof of attendance of continuing medical education courses or programs?

If you undergo a continuing medical education (CME) audit, you will be require to provide certificates of completion of CME courses or programs. The certificate shall include the name of the physician as the participant, the name and date(s) of the CME course or program, the number of approved Category 1 hours or prescribed credit hours granted for attendance, or a copy of the medical specialty board certificate (equivalent to 100 hours of credit).

What happens if I am audited and cannot show proof or evidence of attendance of a continuing medical education course or program?

The Board will allow a physician to renew their license one time following the audit to permit him or her to make up any deficient continuing medical education (CME) hours. However, the Board will not renew the license a second time until all the required CME hours have been documented. Furthermore, a physician may be charged with "unprofessional conduct" for misrepresenting compliance with the CME requirements during the license renewal process. (Title 16, California Code of Regulations, Section 1338.)