What are Continuing Medical Education Conferences?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2020
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The practice of medicine is a complicated profession that is subject to almost constant change as discoveries are made, studies are undertaken, and technology grows. It is also, in most countries, one of the most highly regulated professions. Doctors must pass strict licensing requirements to begin practicing, and usually must supplement their education with regular continuing education credits in order to maintain that license over a period of years. A continuing medical education conference is an event that serves as a way for doctors to knock out all, or at least most of, the year’s continuing education requirements in one weekend away.

Medical training may begin in medical school when one is a med student, but it does not end there. The bulk of a doctor’s foundational education is received in med school, but it continues throughout his career. Medicine is described as a practice in many ways because it is a constant application of trends, skills, and procedures that are often changing. The continuing medical education, or CME, requirements that most jurisdictions place on medical professionals are a way of making sure that all practitioners are up to speed with current knowledge.


The number of CME credits that doctors must complete varies by jurisdiction. Some countries or states require doctors to complete a certain number of credits every year, while others only want a certain number reported every two or three years. Individual credits can be picked up by attending classes or lectures. In contrast, continuing medical education conferences are a way for doctors to earn a lot of credits at once.

Many continuing medical education conferences are held in desirable locations over long weekends or during weeks when it is easier for doctors to get away. Most are geared to a specific medical specialty, such as pediatrics or new techniques in heart surgery. Continuing medical education conferences are often designed as a way for practitioners to both buff up their knowledge about a specialty as well as a way to network with other doctors in similar practices.

Sometimes they are also designed as a way for doctors to combine education with vacation. Some continuing medical education conferences encourage doctor-participants to bring their families with them, and many provide excursions and events for family members while conference presentations are going on. This is particularly true of conferences held in beach or resort locations.

Continuing medical education conferences are typically sponsored by national-level medical associations or medical schools. In order for CME credits earned to count towards a doctor’s required total, they must usually be offered by an entity that the doctor’s home jurisdiction will recognize as accredited. Most of the time, CME credits are country-specific. Even though it may be tempting for a European doctor to attend continuing medical education conferences in Hawaii or Florida, the credits may not transfer, even if the education is helpful. The same may be true for an American doctor seeking credits abroad.



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