AAD credit policy change FAQ

Why did the Academy change its current policy?

The Academy Board of Directors’ decision to modify its current policy came after an extensive review of the AAD Recognized Category 1 CME credit program and the environment in which it operates. 

The Academy learned that it was the only national medical specialty society with a program that "approved" CME programs that did not meet the standards necessary to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, and that to continue doing so put its members and the organization at risk.  

The Academy found that 82 percent of the programs approved for AAD Recognized Category 1 CME credit do not provide AMA PRA Category 1 Credit. Providing AMA PRA Category 1 Credit is important because it is considered as the common currency of CME credit in the health care community and regulatory environment. AMA PRA Category 1 Credit is accepted by all state medical boards, hospitals and other regulatory bodies that require physicians to earn a certain number of CME credits in a given time period. Corporate support is now often predicated on having an accredited provider.

The Academy has a responsibility to its members to ensure that they have obtained the CME credits that all regulatory bodies accept for licensure. Because the AAD’s recognized CME programs did not require AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, dermatologists participating in recognized AAD CME programs carried a higher risk of being challenged by state medical boards that require AMA PRA Category 1 Credit to maintain licensure. Currently, 43 states/U.S. territories require AMA PRA Category 1 Credit for re-registration of a medical license.

As the world’s largest provider of dermatologic CME, the Academy must carefully protect its ACCME accreditation to continue pursuing its core mission of providing the highest-quality educational opportunities to its members. In keeping with the requirements and standards on universally accepted CME, the Academy must require that the programs it recognizes through the AAD CME program conform to the ACCME guidelines for continuing education. With more than 350 programs currently receiving AAD CME credit, the Academy is unable to participate in planning and monitoring all of them to ensure conformity to all the ACCME guidelines.

Programs that provide AMA PRA Category 1 Credit offer significant benefits to both the organization and the programs’ participants. Among them are:

  • Added value to an education program which could translate into higher attendance and more direct benefit for attendees.
  • Eligibility for educational grants from corporate supporters who require that the CME activities they fund are provided by accredited organizations.
  • Reduced risk of government scrutiny of programs supported by industry.

The negative effect is that the organizations conducting the programs may incur additional expense and administrative record-keeping if accreditation or joint sponsorship is sought.

Why doesn't the AAD joint sponsor CME activities with non-accredited providers?

The Academy evaluated the resources and fee structure it would require to joint sponsor CME activities with non-accredited providers. The outcome of this evaluation showed that direct expenses outpaced income necessary to support such a program. The Academy also recognized that this need is being filled by the many organizations (such as universities and medical education companies) that currently have joint sponsorship programs.

What documentation does the AAD require to demonstrate compliance?

The Academy accepts various forms of documentation to verify the AMA PRA Category 1 Credit has been designated for a CME activity, including a copy of a promotional piece that includes the credit designation statement or a letter from the accredited provider that includes the name of the accredited provider and its provider number (supplied by the ACCME or state medical society).

Send the documentation to:

American Academy of Dermatology
Attn: Education Department
930 E. Woodfield Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173

When sending documentation, please include the name of the provider, program title, and AAD Recognized Category 1 CME credit program number.

If the provider is designating AMA PRA Category 1 Credit for its AAD recognized program, what more does the provider need to do?

Send documentation that the program has been designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit to the Academy’s headquarters.

Are organizers of dermatology-related education programs required to apply for AAD Recognized Category 1 CME?

There is no requirement that a dermatology-related CME activity be approved for AAD Recognized Category 1 CME credit. It is important to note that Academy Member Needs Assessment surveys have shown that 84% of AAD members feel that it is important that a CME activity be approved for AAD Recognized Category 1 CME credit.

It is the provider's responsibility to know its target audience's needs and respond accordingly.

Can an educational program be offered without Category 1 credit?

Educational activities that are not designated for Category 1 credit may be eligible for Category 2 CME credit.

The AMA defines AMA PRA Category 2 Credit activities as “all educational activities not designated for Category 1 that: comply with the AMA definition of CME; comply with the AMA ethical opinions on Gifts to Physicians from Industry and on Ethical Issues in CME (i.e., are not promotional); and a physician finds to be a worthwhile learning experience related to his/her practice. Accredited providers do not designate activities for AMA PRA Category 2 Credit.”
Source: American Medical Association's "The Physician's Recognition Award and credit system" handbook. Revised 2006.

What types of educational activities can be offered for Category 2 credit?

Physicians may claim Category 2 credit for:

  • Teaching residents and medical students.
  • Reading medical literature.
  • Participating in live activities not designated for Category 1 credit.

A full list of Category 2 CME Credit activity types is published in the AAD CME Award application and in the American Medical Association's "The Physician's Recognition Award and credit system" handbook."

How does a provider designate Category 2 credit?

Providers do not designate credit for Category 2 activity. When a physician participates in an educational activity that meets the Category 2 credit activity criteria, it is his or her responsibility to document this participation.

AAD members can document Category 2 credits on their CME transcripts.

Should the organization/provider seek accreditation or a joint sponsorship relationship?

Each organization needs to individually assess the decision to seek accreditation or a joint sponsorship. Factors for this decision should include an organization's staff structure, budget and size of the CME program.

Benefits for each option should be considered and each organization should choose the option that best fits its organization's mission, structure, and CME program.

What is the relationship between the ACCME and the AMA?

The AMA PRA Category 1 Credit system was established in 1968. Through this system, the AMA has recognized physician participation in continuing medical education that demonstrates a physician's commitment to staying current with advances in medicine. As more and more CME programs were developed, the AMA recognized the need for a national accrediting body. The AMA invited other organizations to participate in the process of creating a national accreditation, which evolved into the ACCME in 1981.

The ACCME is comprised of seven member organizations: the AMA, American Board of Medical Specialties, American Hospital Association, Association for Hospital Medicine Education, Association of American Medical Colleges, Council of Medical Specialty Societies and Federation of State Medical Boards. Its mission is the identification, development and promotion of standards for quality CME utilized by physicians in their maintenance of competence and incorporation of new knowledge to improve quality medical care for patients and their communities. The ACCME fulfills its mission through a voluntary, self-regulated system for accrediting CME providers and a peer-review process responsive to changes in medical education and the health care delivery system.

Although the AMA owns its credit system, it does not approved CME activities or CME providers. To become a CME provider authorized to designate AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, the AMA relies on the ACCME to accredit organizations that meet ACCME standards.


Email aadcme@aad.org and AAD staff will reply to your question directly. Your question also might be added to this page to help others.