Radiologist? Here’s how your CME/SA-CME requirement works
If you took the ABR Core Exam, you know that my goal is to simplify your life as a rising radiologist. That’s why I designed Core Physics Review and wrote Radiology Simplified. My next mission is to get you launched and stabilized as a radiology attending, and I’ve teamed up with computer engineers at Orbit and Tufts University School of Medicine to make that happen.
Here’s my guide to your CME and SA-CME requirements, and how to make them effortless.
1. I recently passed the ABR Certifying Exam. When should I start taking care of CME?
Right now. This is the perfect time to get your CME strategy lined up.
2. What is CME?
At some point we’re all going to be patients in the care of a doctor. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were up to date on their stuff? Continuing medical education (CME) is any training that keeps you current — stuff you can teach yourself, or learn from others.
3. How do I know if an activity counts for CME?
Make sure you earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for the activity. These activities satisfy basic standards defined by the AMA. Hospitals, state medical boards, and the ABR all require this credit designation.
4. What is self-assessment CME (SA-CME) or SAM?
The ABR defines any AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ that requires you to complete some sort of assessment as SA-CME. The term SAM is the same as SA-CME. Finish 9 SA-CME credits per year, and you’ll be all set.
8. How do you recommend earning SA-CME?
Effective immediately, the credits you earn through Orbit satisfy the ABR requirement for SA-CME. Orbit’s plugin lets you earn SA-CME for the searches you’re already doing in the reading room. No more shelling out $$$, losing valuable days on service, or sitting in a conference session for hours, all for just a measly few self-assessment credits.
5. How much credit do I need to earn to stay in practice?
Depends on the details of your practice — hospital requirements, what state you’re in, whether you read mammo, etc.
All of us submit CME to these organizations:
ABR — you’ll need to earn 75 credits for every three-year period counting back from March 1st of each year, some of which are SAM/SA-CME, depending on whether you’re participating in the ABR Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA).
- If you are participating in the ABR OLA, you’ll need 15 of these 75 credits to be SAM/SA-CME, which are activities with some form of self assessment.
- If you aren’t doing the ABR OLA, you’ll need 25 of those 75 credits to be SAM/SA-CME.
Most radiologists are completing the OLA — on an annual basis, this means that satisfying the ABR requires 25 credits per year, 5 of which are SAM/SA-CME.
If you passed the Certifying Exam in October 2017, your first attestation to the ABR will be March 2021. But don’t fall asleep — your hospitals and state medical board will ask you to submit CME certificates well before then.
State Medical Board — every state medical board has slightly different CME requirements. For example, California requires 50 credits for every 2-year period counting back from the date your license expires. Check your state medical board website.
Hospitals, general requirement — every hospital has a general CME requirement, typically similar to the state medical board requirement.
Some of us have additional requirements:
Breast Imaging — if you read mammography, then you need 15 breast topic-specific CME over the past three years, which is the MQSA requirement for CME. At least 6 credits should relate to each mammographic modality in your scope of practice, namely mammography or tomosynthesis. Note that ultrasound and MRI are not covered under MQSA.
Fluoroscopy License — some states have a fluoroscopy license. For example, the California Department of Public Health — Radiologic Health Branch (CDPH-RHB) issues fluoroscopy licenses to radiologists in California. If you don’t have a current fluoroscopy license, you’re not allowed to do fluoro exams independently. You’ll need to be able to submit certificates for 15 fluoroscopy topic-specific CME when your fluoroscopy license renews every two years.
Controlled Substance CME — many state medical boards have instituted requirements for CME related to controlled substances (opioids) for doctors with DEA licenses (which is many of us).
Practice group — some practice groups have internal standards for CME, as many as 50 credits per year.
Cardiac CT and MR standards — if you’re credentialed to read Cardiac CT or MR, each hospital typically has its own topic-specific CME requirement related to Cardiac CT and/or Cardiac MR. This is in the range of 40 topic-specific credits before you start reading these studies based on the ACR practice standards, and possibly more on a recurring basis.
6. How do I earn all of these topic-specific credits?
That’s the same question I had last year, my first year as an attending. When I realized we were drowning in a growing diversity of CME requirements, I brought together some of the best computer engineers that I know and we created Orbit, the first plugin that lets us earn and document all of this credit for the searches we’re already doing in the reading room. The credits we earn on Orbit are AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ certified by Tufts University School of Medicine.
Here’s how Orbit’s plugin works to earn you CME (including SA-CME) on shift: It turns out that visiting a page on appendicitis on Radiopaedia or other peer-reviewed sites could earn you 0.5 credits, but only if you document and submit your site visits according to specific guidelines. Amazingly, some hospitals let you write down your site visits on a PDF and submit them individually to their medical staff office. Orbit’s plugin fully automates the submission process to instantly grant and document your credits — no PDF submissions required.
In practice, you’ll log into Orbit while you’re on service, and the plugin will work in the background to automatically log credits while you’re looking up stuff during your shift. To earn subject-specific CME, you’ll tag your credits on Orbit with topic-specific tags like Fluoroscopy, Breast, or Cardiac CT. Orbit lets you print your general and subject-specific certificates anytime. All of your credits and certificates are backed by Tufts University School of Medicine.
7. Who’s using Orbit already?
Our early adopters include the largest private practice group in California and radiologists across the country. Our radiologists tell us they’re ecstatic about how much Orbit has streamlined their CME workflow, letting them focus on their patients and work-life balance rather than chasing down credits.
8. Where do I go from here?
Streamlining CME (including SA-CME) through the Orbit plugin is a huge step towards simplifying the process of satisfying general and specialty credits — eliminating the need for expensive travel and soul-sucking online courses. Learn more about Orbit’s mission for physician wellness, find out how to earn $200 of renewal credit while using Orbit, or get started now with Orbit.