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Set guidelines, attribute credit hours for digital CMEs: health experts to med commissions

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Cite how online webinars/digital CMEs became instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic to train frontline healthcare workers, helping them work effectively for both COVID and non-COVID patients

Highlighting the importance of the digital medium to impart continuing medical education (CME) and overcome the difficulties posed by COVID-19, multidisciplinary healthcare leaders from all over the country recently urged the medical commissions to attribute credit hours for online webinars.

The experts, gathered during the launch of CME Excellence Movement, by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, reportedly noted the increasing interest in CME through digital medium and asked the commissions to come out with guidelines for them.

“CME usually focuses on specialities, but misses on soft skills like time management, emotional competencies, stress management and team building – skills that emerged as important during the pandemic. Health diplomacy is also an important emerging aspect of learning that CME should cover as it is a new area for public health professionals who are now constantly dealing with government and bureaucrats,” remarked Prof Sanjiv Kumar, Chairperson, Indian Academy of Public Health; Member, Governing Board, NIHFW, MoHFW, Government of India, and member of IHW Council’s Apex Advisory Body.

The release noted that CME courses in India are funded by a wide range of organisations such as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Medical Council of India (MCI), as well as international organisations such as UNICEF. The Medical Council of India established a code of ethics stating that members should complete 30 hours of CME every five years in order to re-register as doctors.

“CME is the backbone of quality assurance, and skill enhancement and multidisciplinary learning are important. During COVID-19, we hosted several online sessions of CME and saw a whopping 28,000 registrations as against maybe 5 or 10 in normal times,” said Dr P P Mohanan, President, Cardiological Society of India.

“We are learning is a continuous process and digital outreach is better than physical ones. We are planning a series for PG students and new doctors, but medical commissions right now do not have credit hours for digital CME – they must consider and come out with guidelines,” said Dr K L Gupta, President, Indian Society of Nephrology.

Echoing his thoughts, Dr S Arulrhaj, President, The Association of Physicians of India, said, “CME is important at all times – studies say that there is a new development in the world of medicine every minute. The Association of Physicians of India hosted four webinars every week and targeted to reach 50,000 doctors through online CMEs. We surpassed that target and reached more than 100,000 doctors and credit hours must be given to the doctors attending online webinars.”

“CME is here to stay and more likely to take a hybrid route. The aim of CME should not be dispensation of knowledge only, there must be a dialogue. It is an excellent way to identify knowledge and education and get the wisdom to use them,” says Dr Dhruva Chaudhry, Immediate Past President, Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine.

“CME is a way of life for doctors that provides a structured knowledge dissemination, allowing doctors to offer safe and effective care to their patients. During COVID-19, CME became instrumental in training frontline healthcare workers to enable them work effectively in a uniform manner for not only COVID patients but also non-COVID ones who were stranded due to disruption,” says Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council (IHW).

“More CME should be targeted at the new doctors and it is important to make the sessions both interactive and interesting with real-life case studies,” says Dr P N Rao, President, Indian National Association for Study of the Liver.

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