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Creative Ways to Use CME Money

By March 4, 2024April 30th, 2024CME Funds

Many physicians and advanced practice providers receive a CME allowance from their employer every year. This CME money is primarily to fund the continuing education credits necessary to meet state requirements and maintain licensure. For individuals who don’t receive dedicated funds for CME, grants may be available through local, regional, or national organizations.

Even though CME is required and allotted funds are (generally) use-it-or-lose-it, there are creative ways to spend your CME money that can help you get the most out of your yearly budget. CME activities can be purchased at a range of price points and cost per credit. The number of credits your CME money covers depends on many factors, including your total allowance, the type of activity you choose, and the CME provider’s pricing. If you have leftover funds after meeting all credit requirements, you may also be able to use CME money for other purchases, depending on your employer’s policy.

What to Spend CME Money On

CME Getaways

One of the best ways to spend CME money is a vacation-like education experience. Each year, hundreds of CME conferences are held all over the country and beyond, combining the benefits of in-person learning formats with the unique attractions of a relaxing destination like Sarasota, Florida.

American Medical Seminars offers a unique half-day, mornings-only conference schedule that balances earning credit with free time. See the local sites, network with peers, make new friends, spend time with family, or simply sip cocktails on the beach. We stand by our dedication to serious education in beautiful locations, which makes our conferences a great way to meet your professional and personal needs as a busy provider—while spending CME money.

If you’re an expert in your field, you may also be able to earn credit for presenting at CME conferences.

CME with Gift Card

One of the most common creative ways to use CME money is CME with gift cards. While gift card offers differ by CME provider, in general, they act similarly to a rebate when you make a qualifying CME purchase. American Medical Seminars is one of several companies that offer gift cards with select purchases.

When you add a gift card to your CME purchase from American Medical Seminars:
  • The receipt for any incentive-associated purchase will designate the value of the gift card separately from the cost of the learning activity.
  • This incentive may have implications on your tax reporting obligations. Any reimbursed amount must be declared as personal income for tax purposes.

Self-Directed CME

If you’re used to continuing medical education led by an instructor, self-directed CME can feel like a new, creative way to use CME money. Examples of self-directed CME include:

  • Journal reviews
  • Point of care CME
  • Performance improvement CME

You may need technology or other materials to complete these activities, such as a tablet, to make self-directed CME more accessible. Depending on your employer’s CME money policies, these items may be covered.

Another self-directed CME option is building your own educational content. The AMA and other professional associations consider the research and development of CME courses as an enrichment activity that supports the advancement of medical knowledge of the authoring practitioner as well as those their course serves. Check with your healthcare organization before purchasing materials to create your own CME course to ensure you’ll be reimbursed.

Keep in mind, not all self-directed CME is approved for AMA Category 1 Credit. Some may be Category 2 Credit, which may not meet all state or organization requirements.

Specific Skillsets

Another way to spend CME money is on resources that cover a specific topic in depth. The CME system offers providers flexibility in how and when they earn credit. Additionally, the needs of patients and the healthcare system as a whole are best met when physicians and advanced practitioners can decide what skill gaps need to be filled with continuing education. If you’ve been looking to expand your medical knowledge and skillset to a highly specialized topic, consider using your CME requirement as an opportunity to dive deep. Consider:

Subscriptions and Memberships

CME money is great for purchasing subscriptions and memberships. Even though your funds expire, a subscription purchased with those funds is often valid for months or years. Common options include:

  • CME subscription
  • Podcast subscription
  • Memberships to relevant organizations and associations
  • State license application

Your employer may not consider all of these options for your CME money, especially if the subscription is for multiple years and can be taken with you if you leave for another role.

Tips for Spending CME Money

Employers should provide their employees with adequate funds to complete continuing education requirements every year. However, as healthcare organizations look to cut costs, there may be more oversight on how practitioners spend funds. It’s more important than ever to understand your employer’s (or grant provider’s) policies on how CME money can be used. Carefully record your expenses and submit them to your employer if necessary.

Lastly, if a creative way to spend CME money seems like a scam, it probably is. CME is carefully reviewed and regulated to ensure physicians and other healthcare providers are learning best practices and updates to better care for patients. Trying to outsmart the CME system can not only have financial consequences but also shortchange your patients.

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