Continuing Medical Education Requirement for Licensees
All licensees should ensure that they live up to professional standards of excellence by making a commitment to lifelong learning and participating in continuing medical education (CME) activities.
Board rules require physicians and assistants to physicians to obtain certain CME credits for license renewal.
The Licensee Portal features a CME documentation upload that our licensees can use as a repository. We urge you to take advantage of this feature.
- Basic Requirement for Physicians and Physician Assistants
- Exemptions from Requirement
- Maintenance of Records
NOTICE: The licensure CME requirement was waived for all licensees for 2020. Licensees are expected to obtain the annual requirement of 25 AMA PRA Category 1 or equivalent credits during 2021.
Basic Requirement for Physicians and Physician Assistants
- Twenty-five (25) AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ or equivalent annually (calendar year).
- Credits must be earned Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 of each year.
- Licensees are responsible for being familiar with and reading the Board rules Chapter 540-X-14 concerning CME.
Exemptions from Requirement
You are exempt from the CME requirement if you:
- Do not reside in Alabama and do not practice in Alabama (physicians only).
- Are retired and have received a retirement waiver from the Board (if you are retired but do not have a waiver, you are still subject to the CME requirement) (physicians only).
- Received your initial license this calendar year.
- Have applied for and received from the Board a disability waiver.
- Are enrolled or were enrolled in a residency training program or clinical fellowship program during any part of this calendar year (physicians only).
- Are a member of any branch of the armed services of the United States and are deployed for military service; the exemption is for the calendar year in which you are deployed.
Maintenance of Records
- Licensees are required to maintain personal CME records for three years following the year in which the CME was earned.
- Documentation is subject to examination by the Board upon request.
- Adequate documentation consists of certificates of attendance, completion certificates, proof of registration, or similar documentation issued by the organization or entity sponsoring or conducting the continuing medical education program.
- The Physician Recognition Award alone is not sufficient documentation.
- Do not send your CME certificates with your renewal application; you will be informed if the Board wishes to examine your documentation.
- Licensees are encouraged to use the CME documentation upload feature at the Licensee Portal.
What are AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™?
Credit for programs designated to confer AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ sponsored or conducted by entities accredited by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama or by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to sponsor or conduct Continuing Medical Education Programs that confer AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.
What are "equivalent" credits?
The following courses have been deemed by the Board and Commission to be equivalent to AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™:
- Programs of continuing medical education designated as Category 1-A which are sponsored or conducted by organizations or entities accredited by the American Osteopathic Association to sponsor or conduct Category 1-A Continuing Medical Education for osteopathic physicians.
- Programs of continuing medical education designated as a "prescribed hour" which are sponsored or conducted by organizations or entities accredited by the American Academy of Family Physicians to sponsor or conduct "prescribed hours" of continuing medical education.
- Programs of continuing medical education designated as "cognates" which are sponsored or conducted by organizations or entities which are accredited by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to sponsor or conduct approved cognates on obstetrical and gynecologic related subjects.
- Documented attendance at grand rounds.
- Successful completion of an ABMS board certification or MoC process (credit accrues to the year in which board certification or MoC is completed; date-specific certificates are required).
- Programs of continuing medical education designated as such by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.
Are there any other activities that confer Category 1 or equivalent credit?
The American Medical Association’s Physician's Recognition Award and credit system allows claiming AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ directly from the AMA for the following activities, if accomplished in the last 6 years:
- Achieving American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board certification and Maintenance of Certification (MoC®)
- Teaching a live activity certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
- Publishing articles
- Preparing poster presentation(s)
- Finishing a medically related advanced degree
- Participating successfully in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency or fellowship program
Who Can Apply for Direct Credit to convert AMA PRA Category 1 credit:
- Any physician who completed select activities that do not already award CME credit can use this application to claim credit directly from the AMA PRA Credit System.
- Additionally, non-MD doctorate level professionals who have met the requirements of the American Board of Medical Genetics or the American Board of Radiology can use the Direct credit application to get a Certificate of Participation.
- You do not need to be an AMA member to apply for Direct Credit.
What activities do not confer the appropriate credits?
Some PALS, ACLS and ATLS courses are not accredited to confer Category 1 credit:
- Teaching medical students.
- Acting as preceptor for nurses or other healthcare providers.
- Some board certification exam review courses.
- Journal quizzes that are not turned in for credit.
- Many Botox, laser, and aesthetic procedure workshops are not accredited.
If in doubt, check with the provider of the activity before taking the course.
How does the Board check compliance?
A random audit of physicians and assistants to physicians is completed annually. Chosen licensees will receive a letter requesting documentation of having met the requirement or of exemption. Do not send CME documentation to the Board unless you have been requested to do so; however, licensees are encouraged to use the repository at the Licensee Portal to save their certificates.
What happens to licensees who do not have documentation of having met the requirement?
The Board has the authority to file formal charges with the Medical Licensure Commission for a rules violation and to seek penalties such as reprimands and fines. For assistants to physicians, the Board has the authority to order a hearing and seek penalties such as reprimands and fines. Discipline for not having met the CME requirements is public, is reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank and Federation of State Medical Boards, is listed in the Board/Commission Medical Digest and web site, and is available through the web site licensee search. Disciplinary actions are permanently attached to a licensee's file.
How does an organization become a CME provider?
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama accredit providers to confer AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.
I am fully retired from the practice of medicine. Do I still need to obtain CME for license renewal?
If you are retired from medicine and do not practice medicine in any form, including the prescribing of any drugs, legend or controlled, you may request an exemption from the CME requirement.
If you choose to renew your license but wish to request the retirement exemption, you should print and fill out the Request for Retirement Waiver and return it to the Board by email or by mail.
Your license status will change from "Active" to "Active with Restriction Due to Retirement." This is not a disciplinary action and is not reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank, nor is it published in the Board's Newsletter.
If at a later date you wish to re-enter the practice of medicine, you should request removal of the waiver status and submit proof of having met the continuing medical education requirement for the preceding 12 months.