How Many CME Credits Are Required for Physicians – By States

As the medical field continually evolves, so too does the necessity for physicians to keep abreast of the latest advancements in their respective specializations. This continuous learning process is facilitated by Continuing Medical Education (CME), a requisite for practicing physicians across the United States.

In this article, we delve into the specifics of CME credit requirements for physicians in different states. Brace yourself for a state-by-state analysis that will provide insights into the mandatory CME credits and the nuances within the system.

An Overview

Before delving into the specific requirements by state, it’s important to first understand the concept of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and why it’s critical for physicians.

The Importance of Continuing Medical Education

Continuing Medical Education is the means by which physicians and other healthcare professionals maintain, develop, and increase the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the best possible patient care. The benefits are twofold:

  • It promotes constant improvement and learning, allowing physicians to stay on top of new developments and techniques.
  • It helps fulfill state licensing requirements, with most states mandating a certain number of CME hours every renewal cycle.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed a credit system to help physicians keep track of their continuing education efforts, which is the primary system we will be discussing.

The Credit System

The AMA’s system includes two types of credits: AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and AMA PRA Category 2 Credits™. Category 1 credits are typically earned through activities sponsored by CME providers, while Category 2 credits include self-study and other educational experiences not designated as Category 1.

Most state licensing boards require a specific number of Category 1 credits, while Category 2 credits can typically be used to supplement these requirements. However, the specific amount and any additional requirements vary greatly by state, which we will discuss next.

CME Requirements – A State by State Overview

In this section, we’ll examine the CME requirements for different states, focusing on the states with the most demanding and unique requirements.

State Total Hours Category 1 Hours Category 2 Hours Special Requirements
California 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours 12 hours in pain management and end-of-life care, 5 hours in ethical and professional conduct.
Texas 48 hours 48 hours 0 hours 24 hours formal, 2 hours in medical ethics/professional responsibility.
New York 50 hours 49 hours 1 hour 1 hour in pain management, palliative care, and addiction; infection control course every 4 years.
Florida 40 hours 20 hours 20 hours 2 hours in preventing medical errors, 1 hour HIV/AIDS training (first renewal), 2 hours Domestic Violence CME (every third renewal).
Pennsylvania 100 hours 20 hours 80 hours 12 hours in patient safety or risk management.
Massachusetts 100 hours 40 hours 60 hours 10 hours in risk management, 4 hours in opioid education and pain management, course on domestic violence and sexual violence.
Illinois 150 hours 60 hours 90 hours 1 hour sexual harassment prevention training annually.
Arizona 40 hours 24 hours 16 hours 3 hours in opioid-related substance use disorders or safe opioid prescribing.
Washington 200 hours 100 hours 100 hours
Colorado 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours 2 hours related to safe prescribing of opioids.
Georgia 40 hours 40 hours 0 hours Course in Controlled Substance Prescribing.
Ohio 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours 2 hours on end-of-life care decision making.
Indiana 40 hours 40 hours 0 hours 5 hours in cultural competency (if applicable), 2 hours in opioid prescribing and abuse.
Michigan 150 hours 75 hours 75 hours 3 hours in pain and symptom management, 1 hour in human trafficking identification training.
North Carolina 60 hours 60 hours 0 hours 3 hours of controlled substances prescribing CME.
Wisconsin 30 hours 30 hours 0 hours 2 hours on responsible opioid prescribing.
New Jersey 100 hours 40 hours 60 hours 1 hour in end-of-life care and opioid prescribing, 2 hours in cultural competency.
Nevada 40 hours 20 hours 20 hours 2 hours related to misuse/abuse of controlled substances, prescribing opioids, or addiction.
Oregon 60 hours 60 hours 0 hours 6 hours in pain management and/or treatment of terminally ill and dying patients, 7 hours in cultural competency (once per license cycle).
Tennessee 40 hours 38 hours 2 hours 2 hours specifically designated to controlled substance prescribing practices.
Missouri 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours 2 hours in prescribing and monitoring controlled substances (for those with prescribing authority).
Virginia 60 hours 58 hours 2 hours 2 hours in controlled substances prescribing, 2 hours on patient safety or risk management (for medical staff members).
Minnesota 75 hours 75 hours 0 hours 2 hours on suicide prevention (once per licensing period).
Alabama 25 hours 25 hours 0 hours 25% of hours in the primary area of practice.
Kansas 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours Annual participation in influenza vaccination program or education.
Kentucky 60 hours 60 hours 0 hours 5 hours in approved domestic violence training.
Louisiana 20 hours 19 hours 1 hour 1 hour in medical ethics, 1 hour in controlled substance prescribing, 3 hours in best practices for prescribing controlled substances and drug diversion training.
Maine 100 hours 97 hours 3 hours 3 hours in opioid prescribing, 40 hours in the primary area of practice.
Nebraska 50 hours 48 hours 2 hours 2 hours in pain management.
South Carolina 40 hours 38 hours 2 hours 2 hours in prescribing and monitoring controlled substances.
Utah 40 hours 36 hours 4 hours 4 hours in controlled substances prescribing.
New Mexico 75 hours 74 hours 1 hour 1 hour related to cultural competency, 1 hour in pain management and opioid prescribing.
Hawaii 40 hours 38 hours 2 hours 2 hours in ethics.
Idaho 40 hours 40 hours 0 hours Board-approved suicide prevention and awareness course (once per licensing period).
Montana 50 hours 50 hours 0 hours 2 hours in veteran mental health (one-time requirement).
North Dakota 60 hours 58 hours 2 hours 2 hours in opioid prescribing.
Oklahoma 60 hours 58 hours 2 hours 1 hour in pain management or opioid use and addiction, 1 hour in proper prescribing, dispensing, and administering of controlled substances.
Rhode Island 40 hours 38 hours 2 hours 2 hours in current concepts of prescribing opioids for pain management.
West Virginia 50 hours 47 hours 3 hours 3 hours in drug diversion training and best practice prescribing of controlled substances.
Wyoming 60 hours 60 hours 0 hours 2 hours in controlled substances prescribing.

This only scratches the surface of the variety of state requirements. From Alabama’s requirement for 25 hours per year, all the way up to Alaska’s hefty requirement of 80 hours every two years, each state has its unique blend of specific requirements, broad guidelines, and specialty focuses.

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Resources for Earning CME

Resources for Earning CME - tips

There’s a plethora of resources available for physicians to earn CME credits.

Traditional Sources

Traditional sources include conferences, grand rounds, and other formal educational programs offered by accredited CME providers such as medical schools, hospitals, and professional societies. These are primarily Category 1 activities.

  • They typically offer a significant number of credits, but they can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Physicians often prefer these types of activities due to the opportunity for networking and direct interaction with experts.

Online Resources

More recently, online platforms have become increasingly popular sources of CME. They offer flexibility, lower costs, and the ability to complete credits at one’s own pace.

  • These platforms offer both Category 1 and Category 2 credits, often in a variety of formats like webinars, online courses, and podcasts.
  • Prominent online platforms include Medscape, UptoDate, and the American Medical Association’s own education portal.

Navigating CME Requirements

Navigating CME Requirements

While CME requirements might seem overwhelming initially, a strategic approach can streamline the process and even make it a rewarding endeavor.

Planning Ahead

The key to managing CME is to plan ahead and spread your hours over the licensure cycle.

  • Consider creating a CME schedule at the start of each licensure cycle.
  • Look for opportunities to earn CME in your specialty to make the most of your time.

Using the Right Resources

Using a combination of traditional and online sources can help balance time, cost, and educational value.

  • Online platforms can be used for the bulk of credits, given their convenience.
  • Traditional sources can be chosen selectively for their additional networking benefits.

Tracking Your Credits

Keeping track of your CME credits is crucial. Many online platforms will automatically track your credits, but for other sources, you’ll need to keep your own records.

  • Use a simple spreadsheet or one of many available CME tracking apps.
  • Regularly check that you’re on track to meet your state’s requirements.


How can I submit my CME credit application?

You can submit your CME credit application through an online process. If you already have an account, you can submit your application, which can be paused at any time. If you don’t have an account, you need to create one to submit a credit application.

What are the fees associated with applying for CME credit?

The fees vary depending on the type of CME activity. New CME providers must pay to have their organizations evaluated for eligibility prior to applying for credit. Once approved to apply as an organization, there are no annual fees or maintenance costs associated with the credit.

How long is the application review process?

The standard application turnaround time is 15 business days from the date payment is received. You can track and monitor the status of your application on your CME Provider Dashboard.

Do I have options if I need an application reviewed sooner?

Yes, two rush review options are available. Same-day reviews cost an additional fee and are subject to availability. Three to five business-day reviews are also available for an additional fee.

Our CME activity has already taken place. Can we still submit an application for review?

Yes, you can still apply for credit for CME activities that have occurred within the past 12 months. These activities must have been developed in full compliance with the eligibility requirements.

What is the difference between Prescribed credit and Elective credit?

An activity is eligible for Prescribed credit when it is designed primarily for physicians, and a family physician must be directly involved in the planning or development of the activity. An activity is eligible for Elective credit when it is primarily designed for healthcare professionals other than physicians.

What is the difference between AAFP Prescribed credit and AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™?

When a CME activity is approved for AAFP Prescribed credit, it means that an application and supporting materials were reviewed and approved by the AAFP Credit System.

When a CME activity is designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, the CME activity is directly or jointly provided by CME providers who are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), an authorized state medical society, or the American Medical Association (AMA).

How will I be notified that my CME activity has been reviewed and approved for AAFP credit?

The individual who submitted the application will be notified of the AAFP credit determination by email.

Does AAFP require a letter or certificate of participation?

No, CME providers are not required to distribute letters or certificates of participation. However, learners find this documentation helpful, as many learners need a letter or certificate of participation for state licensing or credentialing.

Is AAFP Prescribed credit accepted by other associations?

Yes, several organizations have written credit conversion agreements with the AAFP, and others accept AAFP Prescribed credit. Participants should contact these organizations directly to find out how to report credit.

Final Words

Continuing Medical Education is an integral part of the medical profession. While the requirements may vary by state, the underlying goal remains the same – to ensure physicians continue to provide high-quality patient care.

By understanding these requirements and using the right strategies and resources, physicians can make the most of their ongoing learning journey.