This article is based on a session presented at the ACCME 2022 Meeting.
When faced with the deadlines and efforts for ACCME reaccreditation, professionals might be tempted to skip over the commendation criteria. Adding eight (8) additional criteria to the self-study does add substantial amount of additional work. However, as we discovered at a packed session on commendation at the ACCME 2022 meeting, many providers felt that commendation would be worth it.
Audience members indicated their reasoning, including the alignment of the commendation criteria with their organization’s mission, the bonus two (2) years of accreditation, and the fact that their stakeholders valued the message conveyed by the achievement of Accreditation with Commendation. The ACCME provides many resources about commendation at this link.
When considering commendation, your first step should be to determine the size of your CME program.
- How many years did your organization receive in your last accreditation?
(Look on your PARS account, under “Accreditation Management”)
- 2 years (provisional)
- 4 years (reaccreditation)
- 6 years (reaccreditation with commendation)
- How many activities does your organization produce per year, on average?
(Look on your PARS account, click on the “Activities” tab and filter by date) __________
- Multiply the number of activities per year x the number of accreditation years: _______
- Circle the corresponding size of your organization below:
- S (Small): <39 activities in your accreditation term
- M (Medium): 40–100 activities in your accreditation term
- L (Large): 101–250 activities in your accreditation term
- XL (Extra Large): >250 activities in your accreditation term
Note: When is your organization up for reaccreditation? (Look on your PARS account, under “Accreditation Management”): ___________
Once you know the size of your organization, create a chart of the commendation criteria and look to see what your organization might be doing already that meets some of the criteria. Your chart might look like this*:
*Note: This chart uses the old numbering system for each criterion. You may wish to set your chart up differently.
Click here for a PDF version of the chart.
Remember that you can use the same activity for multiple different commendation criteria. Also, you do not have to submit an entire activity file on the activities you use in your commendation documentation. Be careful to note that each criterion has a different standard for review; in some cases, this depends on the size of your organization and in others, it might be a different requirement. For example, in the case of Addressing Population Health (formerly Criterion 28), every organization must submit four (4) examples. You may select eight (8) of the sixteen (16) criterion as long as one (1) of them comes from the Achieves Outcomes section.
The ACCME has added functionality to their PARS system to allow providers to mark activities for commendation criteria. This might be helpful once you have decided which criteria you intend to pursue (see image below). Note: ACCME only included the criteria that related to individual activities in PARS, so you will not be able to track some of the program-based criteria such as “Engages in Research/Scholarship.”
In the case of the American Society of Anesthesia (ASA), when they went through reaccreditation in 2019, their program was determined to be an Extra Large organization. As they faced reaccreditation, they had a new chief learning officer (Susan) and a new ACCME director, and so they were tempted to skip commendation. However, after carefully reviewing the criteria and meeting with their team members, they decided it would be worth the attempt. Unfortunately, this did require them to look backwards during the reaccreditation project and they decided they never wanted to do that again! After they received their successful Accreditation with Commendation in 2020, they added some additional questions to their planning forms (see figure below) to proactively track the criteria they wanted to pursue. They selected these criteria intentionally and strategically, in collaboration with their CME committee and other stakeholders. This also helped them to make better decisions about which programs they would push for resources, and which might be de-prioritized. In this way, the education department was better able to ensure all accredited educational activities helped to support the ASA’s mission, vision and values:
Mission: Advancing the Practice and Securing the Future
Vision: A world leader improving health through innovation in quality and safety.
Values: Patient Safety, Physician-led Care and Scientific Discovery
Hopefully, this strategic approach to the commendation criteria can help you evaluate your own program and make the decision to pursue commendation during reaccreditation, if it makes sense for your organization.