Gupta AS

We are living in an age surrounded with technology and bombarded from all sides with information. In this digital world the public, medical fraternity can all access information from the world wide web. All information does not add to the knowledge. Knowledge should be such that it brings about a change in the attitudes and translates into day today practices so that society benefits.

The need to update the knowledge, skills, attitudes, professional competence and practices of a medical practitioner forms the basis of recommending continuous medical education for medical practitioners. Various evidence based studies have demonstrated decay of knowledge after a medical practitioner leaves medical school. Self motivation rarely is adequate in this hectic life to enable a medical practitioner to keep in touch and educate self with all recent developments in their field. Continuous medical education or CME is a concept which includes active, continuous life long learning by medical fraternity while in practice to gain, update, retain knowledge, acquire and maintain necessary skills in order to give good standard medical care to patients.

Various countries have tried to force the hand of their medical practitioners by insisting on periodic re registrations; renewal of their professional registrations by earning credit hours which then make them eligible for re registrations or renewal of their registrations. However, such compulsory credit hours linked points, legal bindings are not able to reach the goal of true continuous medical education and updating of the skills as these restrict the type of education activities that generate credit hours. The CME programs should be well designed for all types of medical practitioners to enable every practitioner to develop professionally. Proper guidelines for structured learning, both online and offline modules, interactive teaching and learning methodology with active participation, self study, publications, research, attending and learning on grand ward rounds, attending conferences, workshops, symposiums, learning through distance education modes and virtual teaching should be part of the bouquet that allows the medical practitioner to gain continuous medical education.

An alternative terminology to CME would be CPD (Continuous Professional Development) as well designed programs, tailor made for different health professionals will induce behavioral changes, multidisciplinary approach awareness, refinement of their medical, social  and management skills. The challenge to design a well structured CME/CPD program should be well thought, have a wide scope, have clear laid down guidelines and standard operating procedures and a monitoring system that ensures the gainful impact of the program. The program should not get reduced to just obtaining the required credit hours by any means only for the purpose of re-registration. These programs should also be trimmed to curtail waste of time, money, distraction of the mind and must remain focused to its primary goal of providing continuous professional development and medical education or else it will be reduced to a mere formality and a burden to the medical fraternity by the regulating bodies for obtaining points or credit hours for renewing their registrations rather than its ultimate aim of keeping abreast with the recent developments in the medical field and ensuring continuous professional competence. Well designed tests for evaluating competence should be in place as a professional should have the option of maintaining his education, skills and competence through various modalities including self study.

We hope that the November issue of our journal will add to the education of the clinician.