Physician entrepreneurs – if you’re considering offering CME credits for your courses, programs, or retreats, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • What kind of things qualify for CME (and what doesn’t)
  • The pros and cons of various CME course formats
  • What you need to know for a successful application

Today’s episode is an excerpt of a webinar that I did last year with Dr. Jill Wener. We are discussing how to get your course or your work accredited to offer continuing medical education hours (CME).

Special announcement: My course, Industry Insider, is now accredited for up to 12 CME credits. Learn how to land an exciting and impactful role as a physician in the world of pharma, biotech, or medical devices, AND how to do that even if you think you’re not qualified, don’t have any connections, or concerned about a pay cut… I’ve got you covered!

In this Episode:

[1:50] Pros and cons of getting your course CME accredited
[7:20] How much does it cost to offer CME for your event or course?
[12:00] Considerations for CME formats – enduring material vs series vs events
[18:00] What you’ll need before you start your CME application
[24:20] How to get CME for your course – DIY or through a service

Please note: the information and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the guest speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the host, nor any of the host’s affiliated entities.

Links and Resources:

Industry Insider – 12 CME hours – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut

Launch an Online Course on Any Budget – know your course will sell before you spend any time or money to create it; plus, the exact logistical blueprint to get paying customers and a way to deliver your course without spending a dime (ready to scale up when you are!)

Check out Dr. Jill Wener at

Listen to the full webinar here.




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More for you:

The Speaking Rx learn the business of professional public speaking to establish yourself as a thought leader you are, and get paid for your speaking expertise

The Branding Rx – 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 97 – How to get CME Accreditation for Your Course with Dr Jill Wener

Hey there, I’m Marjorie Stiegler and you’re listening to The Career Rx podcast, where we tackle the important things they don’t teach you in medical school. Like how to treat your career, like the business, it really is, with strategies to accelerate the kind of success that you want, because you deserve a career you love, and a career that loves you back. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Hey there, welcome back. Today we’re going to be talking about how to get your course or your work accredited to offer CME, continuing medical education hours. This is an excerpt of a webinar that I did last year with my good friend Jill Wener. She and I both have a variety of CME courses and can give you all the information that you need to know in order to get started. So I know many physicians these days are looking at their businesses, their livelihoods, and and in some cases, their side gigs. And wanting to offer CME so that it’s more attractive for their fellow colleagues to enroll in and take their courses.

So just Industry Insider and The Branding Rx are my CME courses. And Jill has a variety of both live courses, retreats, which are amazing, and online courses as well. This webinar is going to teach you all how to do it. This is about half of the webinar excerpt. I will also include in the show notes, the link in case you’d to come watch the full webinar. So I have edited it for brevity for this podcast. I hope you enjoy it.

So we get a lot of questions. I mean, Jill and I both have sort of separately and together been offering CME for courses and events, Jill has been doing this longer than I have. So she’s going to be the star of the show today. And we get questions all the time about how to do it. And it’s actually really not that hard. So it does add tremendous value, I probably don’t have to tell you that if you’re attending this or listening to this, it’s a wonderful way to add value to your students to help you enroll more students.

And because your students can take advantage often of their employers money, or have tax benefits for professional development, to really to sign up for your for your course and to spend their CME money which they have to spend anyway, to be able to spend it with you on your stuff that they want. Anyway, so it’s win, win, win, win. So with that, I want to turn it over to Jill to introduce your jump that yourself Joe for just a moment or two and also tell us while you’re doing that a little bit about your sort of journey into CME course land.

Awesome, thanks for having me here, Marjorie. It’s been a while since we’ve done an event together and it’s very reassuring to see your wall and the art behind you because we did all this stuff for TransforMD. And of course, we took the year off of doing our live events. So it’s so good to see you and be working with you live again.

I have an interesting career path in that I practiced hospital medicine for 10 years. And I was the director of education in my division and the Director of Faculty Development and the medical school at Rush before I then transitioned kind of unintentionally but then full force out of clinical medicine into the career I’m doing now which is has also continued to evolve in the physician wellness space as a meditation and tapping instructor and also in the social justice space and that will tie kind of all tie in to to my CME journey.

So as a in my medical career, I did CME events and I helped you know, I got my own events accredited and then I also helped the people that I was mentoring, get their events accredited, so I had a lot of experience doing in that setting.

And then when I first started teaching meditation, I had this, I wanted to get my course CME accredited and I just felt completely stymied. I, I called, I don’t know, I looked up how to get CME accredited and I kept getting the big CME accredited, the whole CME accrediting organization, and it was saying, “Oh, you have to, it’s $15,000 per year to even have the option to accredit CME,” and I just felt very overwhelmed by the whole process. So I stopped for probably two years.

And then I was , what if I just called my old institution and asked them? And they were , “yeah, absolutely.” So , that’s too big, you know, and I just felt I can’t pay $15,000 to even… so I didn’t even know what the difference was between getting a course accredited and being an accredited organization. So then I thought, let me just call my old institution and they were , “oh my god yes we would love to accredit your your meditation courses,” so I applied I got my live meditation course and my online meditation course CME accredited and then have started actually doing work consulting to help other people get their their programs accredited, and just yesterday got a Google letter. And then today for another one of my courses, an anti racism course for health care just got approved actually, this morning, I kid you not I literally just got the email this morning.

So it is doable, it just can sometimes feel overwhelming. And so what we’re hoping to do today is really give you some some really tangible advice so that you can move forward and get the process started.

Before we actually get into how to do this. And, you know, as a reminder that the three main buckets we’re going to cover today is what kind of things qualify a CME, right, what can be accepted, what won’t? What are the various types of CME activities and the sort of pros and cons of each, and then the things that you need to get in order before you start your application. So we’ll cover all of that. I wanted to also mention that although we are covering offering CME, for a long time I was in the camp of I don’t want to offer CME with my courses.

And I think around the time that Jill was getting out of her initial things, see me accredited or certified or whatever the right language is, I was sort of a holdout I was a little bit resistant. Because of the way that my courses were structured, I really wanted to be sure that somebody had some skin in the game, and that they weren’t actually showing up on someone else’s dime, or just doing it so they could get some credits, I wanted them to really be doing things, because they were dying to do it.

And that helped me to really select the right audience for me. But over time, I’ve I’ve evolved a little bit in my thinking, because perhaps as more and more physicians do things mainstream this, I have found that I am still getting people who totally have skin in the game. And also, they really appreciate the value of getting CME credit. And it’s always helpful to be able to have a financial incentive to sign up for a course. So I’ve kind of swung a little bit. I don’t accredit all my stuff, but I do credit some of it.

So I’m going to turn it back over to you, Joe, to either add anything else in intro that you feel should do or to launch into that to that first part, which is, you know, what qualifies as CME? And how do you know, if, if you should even bother going down this road?

That’s a great question, I think I can just go ahead and do that, I think there’s two things to consider. The first is the cost. And I’m seeing some of that come up in the chat, CME is not free. So even if you’re within an institution, someone’s paying for it, either your department or division is paying for it. Or if you’re kind of on your own creating stuff you’re paying for it. There are some, some exceptions to that. But the rule is generally, you’re going to be the one paying the money for this.

So you want it to be cost effective. And it’s not cheap. So if you’re holding an event for four people, and your event is, you know, $1,000, it may cost $2,000, to get your CME accreditation for that event. And if you’re only going to be making $4,000 of profit on that event, and you still have to pay the venue, maybe you don’t want to get that event accredited.

But if you have an online course, that’s going to be giving people, you know, 5 to 10 credits, and it’s scalable, and it’s going to be available ongoing and during or even more credits, that might be worth the investment to you. If your audience is specifically for physicians, if you have an audience that’s not physicians, it may not help. So I think that’s the first thing to consider.

The second thing is really to determine if it actually qualifies. It needs to be something that’s above and beyond something you might have learned in medical school or residency. So with not just a review of pulmonary disease, or a review of asthma, but is it something new? Is it adding something to the audience? That isn’t necessarily something they would have learned already? Or is it synthesizing the information in a way that’s different or, or really, really thorough review of all of the research, and then adding something to it?

So for example, for my course, my meditation course, the type of meditation I teach isn’t normally taught online. And I developed my course specifically for doctors, and I’m a doctor. So I had the expertise and it’s also not something that’s just taught in med school to people, but it’s specifically for doctors. So I think that’s why mine would qualify. For Marjorie’s course… Do you want to speak to The Branding Rx? How did that apply for you?
Yeah, absolutely.

So that was something that actually now that we’re having this conversation, it had not occurred to me to try to get it CME accredited or certified because my course the branding prescription is it’s about professional branding. And when I originally put it out there it was to help people to begin to grow side gigs, right and to understand how they could basically establish businesses and grow their businesses and help their customers understand what it was that sold and and why. But then that really took up more of a professional turn.

And by that I mean career development. So, you know, why should you be promoted? Right? Why should you get that next position, that high level leadership role that you want? All of that is branding and positioning? And then similarly, you know, what, if you want to do a career pivot, how can you showcase your transferable skills?

And if you have a private practice, and suddenly a pandemic shuts you down, and now you’re in telemedicine land, you know, how can you grow your practice, or add value to your practice, or add value for your patients in a wellness component that’s separate from your medical practice, which I’m seeing a lot with integrative and functional medicine, nutrition, physical fitness, I mean, so many of us are multi passionate.

So that’s how that of course sort of began and then evolved. And once I started to realize that actually, this was, I mean, very, very clearly, in the lane of professional development. And my courses are not inexpensive. CME credits, which makes it easy for somebody else, again, to put the bill as professional development, but also it That’s a fat number of credits, and people it. So I have found it to be very value-added. I think what I heard if I can summarize you, Joe, what it sounds you’re saying is, it can’t just be whatever you already exist, right?

Whatever is already in the curriculum in your medical school or in your residency training program. But as you well know, when you attend Grand Rounds, and things like that, I mean, often you get an hour of CME for doing that. So there’s some intersection. And then there are things like professional branding and anti racism work, which seem totally outside of the sphere. But in fact, there’s absolutely a way but it has to be done. Well, right. Because there is a big old application, it has to be tied to specific objectives and in a certain language, which we may get into.

Alright, so the next question is, what are the different types of CME you can get? Are there several types of events? So I think that’s important to note. There’s what’s called an enduring material. So that would be a pre-recorded online course, the videos are all done, you have it all packaged up. There’s also a series, so Grand Rounds is a series.

So if you’re in academics, and you want to do a Grand Rounds, or wellness Grand Rounds series, or something that, that would be something that’s every week, or every month or every quarter, you would get the whole series itself accredited, rather than each individual episode of that each individual event.

Or it might be a one time thing, I did a medical education thing when I was still in my clinical career on millennial students. So we did a whole thing together on how to communicate with our millennial students, because a lot of us did not know what to do. And this was back in 2015. So the whole millennial concept was pretty new for us.

And then you could also accredit an event. So it could be just my retreat, I’m accrediting my retreat. I’m accrediting my day long workshop for doctors and finances, you know, so it could be just a one time thing. And so there’s different types of events. And what you’re, you’re again, going to want to think about cost because again, you’re you’re actually paying the institution that’s accrediting you, you pay them.

And they do the logistics because they’ve also paid the ACCM me, which is the American College of Credentialing Medical Logic. I don’t know what that stands for. But that’s the big body, the licensing body, they have to pay for the rights to credit people. So they want to make their money back and then pay the salaries of the people and then some that are working in their institution.

Somebody has asked what kind of hosting places and other people are asking questions that are more specific to how to have an online course, which is outside the scope, but I’m gonna go ahead and put in the chat. I do have a very, it’s a small mini course it’s not seeming accredited. It’s how to how to launch and run an online course on any budget, I’m going to put it in there, not to try to sell it to you, but because someone has asked, right, so if you want to know that kind of thing that’s outside the scope of what we’re going to talk about today. How to actually put together a course and deliver it. So I think the question that Jill was really talking about right are what are the types? And there’s a long list as Jill sort of referenced.

So there are some that are evergreen, which are some of the questions coming in. What do I do with an evergreen? There are some that are live events, there are some that are episodic, right? And so all of those things, I think that the key take home for all of you is that you can deliver a course in any one of those ways.

And it could be you know, it can be live, it can be written, it can be audio, it can be video, it can be any number of things, and the price tag varies depending upon what it is. Though not only will you work with the accrediting body, and you’ll explain what it is you intend to do, but depending upon which of those you choose, the price will vary.

And you may or may not be able to have it kind of running as evergreen or have to do it on a regular basis. So I hope that is helpful. No matter what you want to do.There is a format that will work for you.

You’re in the middle of talking about CME types of activities and the pros and cons, admin burden. Are there any? I mean, are there any kinds of CME? And I’m putting on the spot here, I know you’re not prepared to answer. So if you don’t have an answer, that’s okay. But are there any types of activities that you think either stand out as being sort of prohibitively expensive? Or that you would steer people away from perhaps? Or? Or is it just a matter of, what matches their vision for their event, their course?

I think it really, it’s just a cost benefit ratio for you, I mean, to get to get a one hour little thing done, I mean, if you have a budget for it, if you have a department paying for you is totally different than if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in this space, and you’re trying to create stuff, and, and support yourself and make a living, you can still bring great content out to people without having CMEs.

I do want to say one other thing, this is a little bit outside the scope, but based on some of the questions that are coming in, I want to be clear on this. If you work for an academic, or private practice institution, and you are thinking about getting CME accredited through your own organization, because that question kind of came in, in the beginning, when Jill said she called up her old organization, I would be very careful about intellectual property, and your ability to collect any revenue from that, if you’re doing it as part of your employed function, right?

Like if you’re an associate professor somewhere and you put on a CEA you put on a course, you know, to your residence, and you offer CME for that you got separately, I mean, you may or not, you may not be allowed to keep that money, just kind of just word to the wise, do your due diligence. Jill and I are both fully separated from any type of medical practice today.

So it’s a little bit of a non issue for us. But I would be, I would have that in mind. And actually, that’s true, whether or not you get your accreditation through your university. I mean, again, that’s something that I teach, actually, in The Branding Rx, and in the online course thing a little bit is, you know whether or not you have any business considerations about your intellectual property and your ability to earn outside income, especially if it’s for stuff that overlaps with your employed responsibilities as a physician, so I’m just want to put that out there for you to have that we aren’t going to solve that today in this webinar, but it is an important topic. So I’m gonna kick it back over to Jill to talk about the things you need to get in order before you start your application.

So the three things you’re going to need first off are objectives, learning objectives. So if you have not written learning objectives before and objectives speak, there is a there’s actually , you can Google it, I think Bloom’s Taxonomy, if you could put that in the in the website in the chat. He’s He’s there’s this whole list of five different levels of action verbs that you can use when you’re writing objectives.

And this is not a workshop on writing objectives. But you can’t just be , I want them to learn about how to meditate, you have to write it in a specific objective speak. And usually, there’s about three. Now if you have one event that you’re doing, it should be about the content of that event. But if you have a series I said, the lifestyle medicine one or he wanted to do want to finance in medicine one, it would just be the three objectives of your overarching goal for the series rather than for each individual one.

If you’re doing a Grand Rounds, a lifestyle medicine Grand Rounds or hospital medicine Grand Rounds, you would apply for accreditation, you would do your three objectives to keep hospitalists and this is not objective speak at all. I still have to look up Bloom’s Taxonomy, but you know, it would be your three objectives for the whole program.

And then each individual week you have to be the CME course director, you have to submit each speaker within that. If you’re not going to be the speaker at all the events you have to get each speaker kind of approved. So that’s also a little bit more nuanced and not something that we would cover necessarily here but the objectives you should know the objectives for your event or your series of events.

And there are probably resources out there to learn more on how to write objectives, but it’s an action verb… “by the end of this activity, my participant will be able to compare the three you know uses of this or are identified as four ways to blah, blah, blah.” So you have to have it be an action.

The second thing that you really want to pay attention to is the gap that you are trying to fill. Why is your event needed? And they’re going to ask you for that. And, and if they think you’re I mean, if they if they’re willing to even go down this road with you, and they think that you what you’re offering is a creditable or certifiable, whatever the right term is there, they do earn money.

So some of you have asked this question of, why would they want to help you? Why would they want to hold your hand and help you get you know, approved? Because they’re going to get your money? So that’s why, and because they think it meets a need that their learners have, right. So I mean, it’s all good.

Yeah. And then the third thing, excuse me, so the first thing was writing your objectives, you want to have that you don’t have to have those in advance, but you’re going to be asked that. And so you might as well start thinking about it, even before you create your event, if you haven’t even created it yet.

The second is, what is the gap that your event is going to fill? And then you’re going to have to justify why your expertise and knowledge in the content fills that gap.

And I’m seeing a lot of questions that came in through the registration and are coming into the chat about the costs. So I will certainly defer to Jill on this. I think that what I’ll say first is there’s no one size fits all, we cannot give you a cost list right now. Because it will depend on, you know, the the scope of what you’re doing, which of the different formats you choose, and who ends up crediting you right? Or certifying you, right to give your credits?

But I think as Joe pointed out early on, there is sort of a minimum threshold for entry. So far one person has asked, “Can you do this free or at very low cost?” I think the short answer to that is no, no, unfortunately, it doesn’t need to be very high cost, but it’s probably going to be I don’t know, Jill, would you say the floor’s, at least, I mean, it’s probably at least $1,000, or a couple hundred?

I mean, if you’re doing a one time event for one hour, or you have a thing that you want to, you know, something for up to date or something for Doximity or something. Although I think they accredit their own stuff, so it’s different. But if it’s just a one little a one hour or half a half credit, something, that’s only one time that might be less, but for an online course, for something ongoing, or even for an event, expect to pay at least $1,500, if not more, the more credits you’re offering, the more it’s going to cost.

So no one’s going to do this for free, the only time it feels free is if you do have an academic appointment. And your department is paying for it, it’s not coming out of your own pocket. And also if you have academic affiliation, which again, I do not, so I have done all the CME work I’ve done in the last five years as a sole-proprietor. You just trot on down to the CME office, and they’ll help you with this process. So they will sit with you and debunk the process. And you don’t have to, get a consultant to help you do that they will help you with it and be, “Oh, well, it’s this or this is why it wouldn’t work.”

So you have that resource as part of an institution. And also, if you are working with an institution that is accrediting you, they will also help you with the process. Even if you have nothing to do with them. I have nothing to do with Rush anymore. But they still helped me with my CME projects. And I just find them extremely easy to work.

But to clarify, if you are trotting down to your own institution CME office, you likely cannot you yourself likely cannot charge money for that that wouldn’t be related to CMU, this wouldn’t be the one telling you that it’s probably your contract with your boss, right with the entity that’s hired you that would prohibit that double dipping, I assume because you would be benefiting from the institution’s accreditation, right, which they have spent money on. So it’s not free. It’s just unseen sort of to you.

I have, I mean, to answer sort of more of these finance questions, you know, there’s a minimum threshold right required to get in. If it’s something that’s evergreen, I think the standard is usually an annual update, right? Or something that. So it’s every few years. Yeah, I’ve seen one year and I’ve seen every two years as well, too. And then sometimes there are organizations that are flat fee. And again, that might depend on the kind that you choose. And then there are organizations that are dollar per student, or percent per student, right, depending upon your price tag.

So I know a lot of the answers to this, or it depends, but at least it’s good for you to know actually, when you’re out there shopping around that it depends because I know before I asked Jill to help me with this, I looked at some independent groups or I did a Google search and the place that I found that seemed like they had a really easy process and they seemed like they would be super helpful and I do believe it would have been six stressful, but it was also going to cost me something five or six grand and that’s when I called Jill for a “helped me, Mama moment” where I said, “you know, I’ve been on the fence I’m ready to kind of jump over it I know my students want see me, but six grand felt like a lot even though the price point in my course was a lot. And my earnings from the course are a lot, six grand felt like a lot and it turns out it is a lot.”

I feel, once I did the comparison shopping, and you helped me? Is there anything else you feel you can say? I know it depends on circumstances. But what else can we tell people to help guide them in terms of price.

There’s also a lot of questions coming through on different places to get the CME accreditation from and so I haven’t done I don’t know, every single place. But I will say there’s private ones, there’s ones that do it for profit, like that’s how they make their money is accrediting CME.

And then the academic institutions, other places you can ask or American Academy of Family, Physicians, places that some of those places will require you to have the approval of or someone on your planning committee that has a member of those bigger organizations.

You know, obviously, Jill is a wealth of information on this much more so than I am. So for people for whom this feels encouraging and you’re ready to, you know, hit the streets, by all means, please, do that. And, you know, take these suggestions and see what you can move forward. For people who I mean, Jill, if I’m not mistaken, I mean, you do have clients, right, that you advise? And do you have some that you’ll just straight up do it all?

Yeah, so I have a couple of different things that I do for people, I do it , I will do it all for you, you provide me with access to their course. And I am not going to be an expert in their course content. But so I do that. And then I also have a DIY option that’s more cost effective, where I kind of give you all the information you’re going to need. And hold your hand through it before the process so that you have everything you’re going to need.

And don’t feel caught off guard by it. And then you know, you can ask some questions. But this is something that may not be something doable for you cost wise. But it has been very helpful for my clients because they’re busy and they’re doing other stuff. And they’re very overwhelmed. It’s you’re going to hire someone for marketing or you’re going to hire someone for social media.

If you really want to get your course CME accredited and you think it’s going to be of value, but you don’t have the time or energy to do it. I have the experience. So it’s not recreating the wheel for me.

Awesome. So you guys have in the chat here. And then for people who are listening or catching this on the replay, to get in touch with Jill, for any of these services, whether it’s just the advice or the do it for you. It’s, which is J I L L W E N E

You know, if you have questions that are beyond what we’ve addressed here, Send them to Jill, this is part of her livelihood. So if she writes you back and tells you how you can work with her, please expect that right. She is an expert in this area and highly sought after. I hope this was helpful, though, for people who have been mulling this over and thinking about the course that’s either in their mind or partially developed or even fully developed, and how you can really add more value to your students and get more students.

So especially for those of you who are really fixated on cost, which I understand, it is really important to know that when you know, assuming you have a great course that adds value and teaches people things that they need and want. You know giving them CME is likely to just boost your enrollment and increase your students and really help you to do even more of what you love that people love from you.

Okay, gang. That’s it for this excerpt of the webinar for this podcast episode. In the show notes, I will link to the full webinar. So if you’d to hear all of the content, certainly can come on over and watch the full webinar. I’ll also link to my course on how to build and launch a course on any budget because that’s been asked for as well during the webinar. And of course, link to Jill and how you can find her so that she can help you to do this for your own course. That’s it for today. Bye for now.

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