Brody’s Continuing Medical Education Program receives Accreditation with Commendation

The quality of health care and continuing medical education in eastern North Carolina continues to improve as the Brody School of Medicine’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) program has been awarded Accreditation with Commendation by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

The program provides CME programming not only for health care professionals in eastern North Carolina, but nationally. Between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 — the accreditation review period — the program provided 1,553 hours of CME credit to over 26,000 physicians and other health care professionals during a total of 114 organized events. Programs are planned to increase both medical knowledge and the skills needed to provide cutting edge clinical care.

East Carolina University Brody School of medicine students practice CPR techniques.

East Carolina University Brody School of medicine students practice CPR techniques.

“Folks aren’t just getting a didactic lecture here, they are getting something that they can implement in their practice,” said Mary Stuart Peaks, assistant director of the CME program.

The CME program collaborates with the Eastern Area Health Education Center (Eastern AHEC), a statewide nonprofit that is dedicated to providing quality educational programming for those in the health care workforce.

“AHEC’s role is to make sure there is a well qualified health care workforce, particularly for rural and underserved populations,” said Lorrie Basnight, executive director for Eastern AHEC and associate dean for Continuing Medical Education at the Brody School of Medicine.

Being awarded Accreditation with Commendation demonstrates the dedicated effort to fulfilling the mission of providing high quality health care to under-resourced communities. The award is described by the ACCME as a “mechanism for celebrating organizations that excel” and requires extensive planning and programming efforts for an elongated period of time.

“One of the strengths that got us commendation is the collaboration between private practices, health systems, Eastern AHEC and the Brody School of Medicine,” said Mildred Carraway, director of Continuing Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Education. “All those intertwined relationships are a big part of what got us commendation.”

To receive accreditation with the additional commendation award, the CME program was required to select eight additional metrics to fulfill in their programming. They selected: Engages Teams, Engages Students, Collaborates Effectively, Optimizes Communication Skills, Engages in Research/Scholarship, Support CPD for CME Team, Demonstrates Creativity/Innovation, and Improves Healthcare Quality as their focus areas for the commendation additive to the standard four-year accreditation cycle.

To assure that the commendation criteria would be met, planning committees were asked to develop programs with the criteria in mind. “I will be honest, Accreditation with Commendation is extra work for physicians as well,” Carraway said. “And so we weren’t really sure how effective our efforts would be, you know, they’re already busy. You’re asking one more thing of them.”

The Brody School of Medicine’s CME programming has proven to be effective, with 67% of people who have attended one or more of the program’s events saying that they intend to change their practice as a result.

When the COVID-19 pandemic affected millions in health care in 2020, CME was forced to adapt its approach to include virtual opportunities. A creative approach that the Brody School of Medicine CME developed was a podcast series, which has been maintained since and releases a new episode every Wednesday.

“Doing podcasts for accredited CME is something that no one in NC AHEC is doing right now,” said Peaks. “This is something that we’ve put our finger on the pulse on and have expanded to be in a very innovative leadership role within the NC AHEC system.”

While managing to provide CME during a pandemic was difficult, Eastern AHEC and the Brody School of Medicine refused to forfeit providing high quality medical education. Rather, the CME programming shifted to an online modality and continued providing CME credit for those who needed it.

More than anything, Eastern AHEC and the Brody School of Medicine recognize that the quality of Continuing Medical Education directly relates to the quality of health care in eastern North Carolina.

“Our goal is that when health care providers take a day of their time and revenue away from practice to come to an educational event, that they’re taking things home that they’re going to be able to put into practice to improve the care for their patients,” Carraway said.

The Accreditation with Commendation award for the Brody School of Medicine CME program means there are six years until re-accreditation is necessary. However, the planning of quality, innovative educational programming doesn’t stop for Eastern AHEC or the CME program.

“Our health care providers have lives in their hands and our patients deserve the very best care. Eastern North Carolina deserves the very best care,” Peaks said. “The way that we can play a very small role in that effort and helping our frontline heroes is to make sure that they have evidence based, scientifically sound, unbiased education. That’s our role, and I think we do it well.”