By Cynthia Juarez, Director of the Office of CME
In March of 2015, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME, awarded The Office of Continuing Medical Education at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso its initial accreditation. This means that we are now a stand-alone accredited body and we are independent from the Lubbock CME office. With this change comes a great opportunity to critically look at the department and fine tune it to the growing and diverse needs of the institution. Like many other units on campus, we are primed for change.
Also with our new accreditation status comes the opportunity to educate the rest of the community on continuing medical education and its importance. According to the ACCME, continuing medical education is the longest period of time a physician will spend learning. It is even more compelling to think about how continuing medical education is the avenue by which practicing physicians can immediately affect patient outcomes, as it is the prime opportunity to go from learning to practice relatively quickly. Ultimately, CME is a tool in the continuous improvement process not only for practicing physicians, but for entire health systems such as hospitals and clinics.
As more and more of our time is stretched, along with competing demands on our time, it can be difficult to find the best way for opportunities for continued learning and improvement. The El Paso community and surrounding region is already stretched thin for health care professionals, and for these physicians to find the time outside of their busy practice can be even more daunting. That’s why Texas Tech’s commitment to providing avenues for continued professional development is truly impressive. For over 30 years this office has worked toward providing high quality, accurate and timely educational opportunities.
This new generation for the department with our own accreditation means a higher level of responsibility for maintaining our own activity records, and assures the standards of accreditation are met and documented. It also means a time to grow and look for other ways to provide CME credit, and for the department to be the avenue by which to play a part in larger quality improvement. As we take on this opportunity, our first challenge will be to reframe how CME has been viewed on campus for the last several years.
Paramount to reframing the department is to make sure we are all on the same page with concepts and ideals that are espoused by our accrediting body. In the near future you will see our department speaking in these terms and reminding all of the departments we work with to critically evaluate and plan CME programming that speaks to addressing practice gaps, integrative inter-professional collaborative practice, and post learning re-evaluation. This common language will help to position not only this department for continued accreditation but will also help bring us to the necessary internal self-reflection that is needed of an institution committed to providing quality education and professional practice in a historically underserved region.
Over the next few months, the Office of Continuing Medical Education will continue to provide information on the changes for the department and other interesting tidbits about professional development and logistical planning of events that will hopefully prove useful for all departments involved in CME programming. We welcome feedback on current practices that we can begin to address as we move toward full independence from the Lubbock CME offices. We look forward to working with all departments to usher in a new era for the Office of Continuing Medical Education.