Standards Missing

A new study evaluated a pilot programme to measure what physicians learned during three continuing medical education (CME)-accredited courses. The researchers asked course providers to prepare a five-item questionnaire to assess the knowledge and confidence of CME participants. The questionnaire was administered when physicians registered for the course, three months after completing the course, and nine months after the course.

The study identified striking differences among the seminars. "In some cases people learned a lot. In other cases they did not learn much at all. In some cases they learned a lot and retained it," said Weiner. "In one case they learned a lot and actually knew more six months later than they did right after the seminar, which suggests that perhaps they did more research to learn about the topic. In some cases there was marked decay and they were back to where they were before they took the course."

The researchers acknowledge that conducting the study was cumbersome. Ultimately, the purpose of CME is to ensure that physicians are continually learning and applying what they have learned to their practice to improve care for their patients, said Weiner. But the standard for medical education outcomes measurement is, in general, very low, he said. "We do little to test whether all the effort, money, time and resources we put into teaching medical education works. That is a problem."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Illinois at Chicago