CME hours are critical but just one of the responsibilities practitioners have to worry about on a regular basis. This could lead to missing critical CME deadlines. Even if you’re frustrated, its important to immediately work toward remedying the problem of missed CME deadlines, before the situation worsens. Failure to meet CME requirements results in a lapsed medical license, expired credentials, and financial penalties. Any solution to missing CME deadlines includes earning CME credit, so read this guide on what to do when you miss CME deadlines.
1. Determine Why You Missed a Deadline
There’s more than one reason you may have missed a CME deadline, and that reason has a bearing on how to proceed in avoiding or minimizing repercussions. Some common reasons to miss your deadlines include:
- You earned the necessary amount of CME credits but missed your reporting date(s).
- You failed to earn the required number of CME credits for the current reporting period.
- You had a genuine personal emergency that prevented you from earning credit or reporting in time.
Each of these reasons may have different remedies and penalties depending on your medical board’s policies and procedures.
2. Check Your CME Credit Requirements
CME reporting varies by organization. State medical boards, professional organizations, individual medical facilities, and insurance companies each have different reporting criteria. State licensing boards, for instance, typically operate on two-year credit reporting cycles. Specific reporting dates are set for the end of the year (around the end of December or early January), on a practitioner’s birthday, or the date they initially received their license. The best course of action is to refer to the authorities who set the requirements directly to determine whether you missed your reporting deadline or not.
Recent Changes to CME Requirements
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, state medical boards and professional medical societies suspended, postponed, or generally modified CME requirements. This choice was meant to lessen responsibilities for healthcare practitioners who were under immense pressure and reflected the limited availability of credit earning opportunities with travel conferences unavailable. Original or updated state requirements were later implemented after pandemic-era modifications lifted. Check to see if any confusion regarding missed CME deadlines could be due to modified CME requirements changing without your knowledge.
3. Check to See if Credits Were Properly Recorded
It is possible for a practitioner to have legitimately earned credits that were incorrectly reported or wrongly entered into databases by the CME provider, practitioner, or professional organization. Common errors within the CME certification process include:
- A CME provider’s accreditation was paused or revoked
- An activity wasn’t properly accredited or added to ACCME activity lists
- The provider supplying the activity failed to properly report credits on your behalf
- An error was made on CME certification forms, including the wrong CME provider or wrong CME activity.
4. Contact Your State Board or Medical Association Immediately
If you are concerned that you have not met CME requirements for your reporting cycle or have missed your CME deadline, contact the relevant organization immediately. Have any necessary CME documentation readily available, including digital or paper certificates, your state board ID, and your license renewal application. The Federation of State Medical Boards website is a great resource for connecting you to your state’s medical board.
Apply for a Wavier or Extension
The good news is that If this is your first time missing deadlines, some medical boards have provisions such as extensions or grace periods to allow you to catch up.
Missing reporting deadlines happens for a number of reasons. Earned credits were not properly tabulated, accrued, or reported. Each of these could impact your ability to successfully apply for a waiver or extension to complete past due CME credits or licensure applications.
Make Up Past Due Credits
For states that allow opportunities to make up past due CME credits, schedule CME activities immediately. Consider whether a well-planned mix of live and virtual activities will help you meet requirements quickly. Accredited providers are listed through the ACCME’s website. CME providers are required to formally list their accreditations prominently on their website and marketing materials.
Work Directly With Authorities
Some states, such as California, will allow a clean renewal of a physician’s license once following an audit to allow them to make up unmet CME requirements. They will not do so a second time until outstanding CME requirements have been met.
For members of professional organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), unmet CME requirements could mean the lapsing of their maintenance of certification and losing their association membership. However, professional organizations are open to working with physicians in some cases and will allow practitioners a set amount of time to earn past due credits. Others have a no-tolerance policy and will require physicians to restart the membership and credentialing processes required by the organization when CME deadlines are not met.