The AMA PRA Credit System is a set of institutional rules and regulations overseeing the creation, distribution, and use of CME activities. Through a partnership with the ACCME, the AMA has expanded the application of its credit system to encompass more activities and practitioners.
The AMA PRA designation represents an activity participated in for CME credit and professional training. This system has evolved over time to become an integral part of the state medical licensing apparatus and central to the continuing medical education of health professionals in the US and beyond.
The AMA PRA Credit System has important implications for practitioners earning credit with providers like American Medical Seminars that offer AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ after earning accreditation from the ACCME and professional medical organizations like the AMA.
What Practitioners Completing CME Activities Should Know
It’s a privilege to be able to create and distribute accredited CME activities for practitioners seeking to advance their knowledge. To preserve and enhance the reputation of the AMA PRA designation as a signifier of high-quality CME activities, the credit system has undergone changes in the last several years. It is important to note that for practitioners earning credit, the primary objective remains the same: earning CME credit as required by your state medical licensing board to maintain eligibility.
However, in response to the rise in non-accredited CME activities, and to ensure that current accredited providers like AMS continue to offer activities of the highest quality, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) aligned their standards.
AMA PRA Category 1 Credit Activity Standards
Certifiable CME activities can include:
- Clinical subjects
- Non-clinical subjects such as professional development
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Core requirements per medical domain or specialty
Generally, CME activities must be non-promotional which means they are free of bias when creating or delivering CME content. To earn the AMA PRA designation, activities must meet format-specific requirements as well as core requirements for live activities, enduring activities, online activities, journal-based, self-improvement, speaker credit, and point of care activities.
CME activities should be of an appropriate level of depth and scope befitting their medically educated audience and be designed to advance the knowledge of physicians and non-physicians as well as the public good.
All content, including that of complementary and alternative medicine, can only be included and reviewed according to accepted empirical standards, with the content creator or presenter covering all relevant data pertaining to its risks, benefits, and alternatives (if any exist). CME providers, content creators, or presenters are under no circumstances permitted to put forth the perception of general acceptance of a mode of care that has not achieved this status.
AMA PRA for Non-Physicians
Many medical disciplines, with their own professional organizations and licensing bodies, separate from the AMA, can earn credit towards their own requirements with AMA PRA credits but cannot earn AMA PRA credit.
Nurse practitioners and registered nurses (NPs and RNs), physician assistants (PAs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), licensed social workers, and pharmacy professionals (PharmDs), depending on the state, can participate in AMA PRA Category 1 Credit for credit. Always check with your state board to ensure credits will be accepted towards your discipline’s requirements. Boards may accept credits outright towards your specific set of primary requirements or will apply AMA PRA credit towards secondary learning and licensing objectives. Your exact requirements depend on the standards set in your state and by your professional organization. In some cases, non-physician professionals can earn Certificates of Attendance that document their participation in an AMA PRA activity for non-AMA PRA credit.
In some cases, activities from non-AMA entities like the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) can be submitted for AMA PRA credit. Check with your relevant professional body and state medical boards before earning and submitting equivalent credits.
Bias, Ethics, and Physician Responsibilities
Professional bodies like the AMA work closely with the ACCME, in part, to empower physicians to advance their medical knowledge, maintain licensure, and generally succeed as physicians.
They suggest physicians use the following criteria when selecting CME activities:
- Choose activities that are high quality and appropriate for your educational needs.
- Be mindful of AMA ethics guidance regarding CME activities and avoid biased and commercially motivated information.
- Claim credit in line with your level of participation in the activity. Participants can claim partial credit for partial activity completion.
- Decline monetary incentives to participate in, create, or endorse an AMA PRA accredited CME activity.
See the AMA’s full report on continuing medical education for more information.