Barriers to identifying and obtaining CME: a national survey of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Maureen O’Brien Pott, Anissa S. Blanshan, Kelly M. Huneke, Barbara L. Baasch Thomas, David A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: CPD educators and CME providers would benefit from further insight regarding barriers and supports in obtaining CME, including sources of information about CME. To address this gap, we sought to explore challenges that clinicians encounter as they seek CME, and time and monetary support allotted for CME. Methods: In August 2018, we surveyed licensed US clinicians (physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants), sampling 100 respondents each of family medicine physicians, internal medicine and hospitalist physicians, medicine specialist physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (1895 invited, 500 [26.3%] responded). The Internet-based questionnaire addressed barriers to obtaining CME, sources of CME information, and time and monetary support for CME. Results: The most often-selected barriers were expense (338/500 [68%]) and travel time (N = 286 [57%]). The source of information about CME activities most commonly selected was online search (N = 348 [70%]). Direct email, professional associations, direct mail, and journals were also each selected by > 50% of respondents. Most respondents reported receiving 1–6 days (N = 301 [60%]) and $1000–$5000 (n = 263 [53%]) per year to use in CME activities. Most (> 70%) also reported no change in time or monetary support over the past 24 months. We found few significant differences in responses across clinician type or age group. In open-ended responses, respondents suggested eight ways to enhance CME: optimize location, reduce cost, publicize effectively, offer more courses and content, allow flexibility, ensure accessibility, make content clinically relevant, and encourage application. Conclusions: Clinicians report that expense and travel time are the biggest barriers to CME. Time and money support is limited, and not increasing. Online search and email are the most frequently-used sources of information about CME. Those who organize and market CME should explore options that reduce barriers of time and money, and creatively use online tools to publicize new offerings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number168
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Credentialing
  • Education, medical, continuing
  • Licensure, medical
  • Marketing
  • Workplace learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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