State licensing boards require physicians and physician assistants to continue life-long learning within their field. This helps to better ensure that medical professionals provide the best medical care to their patients and better serve their communities. Although a noble goal and valuable part of the medical profession, actually meeting these requirements can be difficult. Life circumstances can make it difficult to find the time or a global pandemic can make it impossible to even go to the courses.
So what happens when extenuating circumstances make it impossible to meet the Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements? The exact answer will depend on the state, as each state can have different requirements and protocol for noncompliance. In Texas, for example, the state requires a minimum of 24 credits for every 24 months. This should include 2 credits of ethics or professional responsibility education and can include conferences, seminars, lectures, grand rounds, and self-study courses as well as other options.
A failure to comply can result in the following consequences:
- Texas will not renew a physician’s license if they fail to get the required 48 CME credits within 24 months.
Fine. There is also a monetary penalty. A failure to comply will lead to a late registration fee and could also lead to additional administrative fees.
- The Texas Medical Association also notes that the board could take additional action if the physician provides false information regarding their CME hours.
Are there any exceptions?
In some cases, the executive director of the board may allow for a temporary license. This license lasts for 30 days and allows the physician an opportunity to address any problems with their required CME credits. The Texas Medical Board also provided an automatic extension during COVID. This extension applied to anyone that was due for a renewal during the pandemic to 8/31/2020. At this time, the board has not provided an additional extension. As a result, it is unlikely the board will continue a broad extension.
What if I have a problem with my CMEs?
Physicians who find themselves under investigation by the board for their CMEs or any matter have options. You can act to protect your interests and fight back if you disagree with the board’s findings.