Do You Need to Do CME?

CMEList June 30, 2019

There are a lot of factors that determine whether a medical professional needs to participate in Continuing Medical Education (CME) including the state you practice in, your specialty, your board certification, and professional organizations you belong to. It’s most likely that if you are in a patient-facing profession, you have to participate in CME, but there are certain exceptions. Here is a brief breakdown of who does and who does not have to complete CME.

Professions That Have to Complete CME


Physicians are required to earn a specific amount of CME credits based on which state they are licensed in and what the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) medical board they are certified by.

Each state medical licensing board has a specific set of CME requirements physicians must meet to maintain their license to practice in that state. The Tennesse Board of Medical Examiners, for example, requires licensed physicians to earn 40 AMA Category 1 Credits™ every 2 years, with two of the credits on Controlled Substances CME.

Like with state CME requirements, each AMA medical board has a specific set of requirements certified physicians must complete to maintain their board certification. In many cases, physicians’ specialty board require them to earn a specific amount of CME credits over a specific time period to meet their maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements. The American Board of Anesthesiology requires certified anesthesiologists to earn 250 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM every 10 years.

In most cases, physicians need to earn AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM when trying to meet their state and specialty requirements. These credits will demonstrate that the physician has dedicated themselves to increasing their medical knowledge to deliver better outcomes for their patients.

Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants are required by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) to earn at least 100 CME credits every two years. At least 50 of the 100 CME credits must be category 1 credits. The remaining 50 credits can be any combination of category 1 or category 2 credits.

Check out these top physician assistant CME courses that can help physician assistants meet their CME requirements.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are required by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) to earn a specific number of continuing education (CE) credits to maintain their board certification. The AANP states that all nurse practitioners must complete at least 100 contact hours of advanced CE during the 5-year recertification process. Of the 100 CE hours, NPs are required to earn 25 Pharmacology CE credits. They do, however, have the option of precepting, serving as a clinical preceptor for interdisciplinary advanced health care student(s) while providing direct patient care as a nurse practitioner in your area of certification, as a substitute for the 25 Pharmacology CE credits.

In addition to the AANP requirements, different state licensing board has CE credits for nurse practitioners. For example, NPs in Alaska are required to earn 30 CE hours, with at least 12 hours of CE being on Pharmacology and 12 hours of CE pertaining to clinical management of patients, during the relicensing period.


Nurses are required to earn CE credits based on the state they work in. Each state has different requirements that nurses have to meet to complete their Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) and maintain their nursing license. Nurses registered in California, for example, are required to earn 30 CE credits every 2 years to maintain their nursing license.

Courses nurses can complete to earn CE credits are accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Check out these top Nursing CE courses for nurses.


Pharmacists are required to earn a specific amount of CE hours over a specific time period dependant on whether they are applying for initial certification, recertification, or reinstatement.

Pharmacists trying to recertify must earn 20 CE hours ever 2 years. One hour of the twenty hours must be in the subject of pharmacy law and one hour must be in the subject of patient safety.

Pharmacists who are applying for reinstatement must also earn 20 CE hours every 2 years but two of the twenty hours must be in the subject of pharmacy law and one hour must be in the subject of patient safety. 10 of these credits can be earned via completing a relevant college course.

Also, similar to other medical professions pharmacists’ CE requirements vary by state. A pharmacist in Alabama, for example, must earn 15 CE hours every 2 years.

Check out top Pharmacist CE courses to help you meet your requirements.


The following types of therapists have to earn continuing education credits:

  • Physical Therapists
  • Speech Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists

Physical Therapists

Physical Therapist CE requirements vary by the state they are employed in. Physical therapists licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation must complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) relevant to the practice of physical therapy during each pre-renewal period as a condition of renewal. 3 hours of the 40 hours must include content related to the ethical practice of physical therapy.

Speech Therapists

The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASLHA) requires speech therapists to 30 Certification Maintenance Hours (CMHs) of professional development during each 3-year certification maintenance interval in order to maintain their ASHA Certificates of Clinical Competence (CCC).

Occupational Therapists

Like physical therapists, continuing education requirements for occupational therapists varies by state. Occupational therapists in Montana, for example, must complete 10 hours of continuing education annually to meet their continuing competence requirements.

CME requirements depend on many factors including the state you practice in, your profession, your specialty, and many other offers. In some specific cases, you may not have to earn any CME requirements at all. Regardless of your requirements, CME is important and is recommended for most medical professionals.