Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing a CME "needs assessments"

Have you ever written an educational needs assessment for a hospital, a medical education company, or a medical specialty society? In the world of certified continuing medical education or CME, the educational needs assessment is a critical component that is used to justify the need for continuing education on specific topics. Certified CME has to begin with a set of identified educational needs that are based on clinical gaps and root causes. After all, what good is CME if it doesn't address relevant practice gaps?

So, why are we talking about CME needs assessments?  Medical education companies often look for physicians and other writers to assist them with the needs assessment process. For instance, if a company wishes to propose an educational initiative on the topic of new biologic agents used in oncology, they need to come up with a specific needs assessment that identifies clinical gaps that can be bridged with continuing education. You need to generate a proposed list of learning objectives, a program agenda, and a list of references to support your gap analysis. How many different sources of information can you leverage to support the need to educate health care professionals about this topic?

To learn more about non-clinical opportunities in the world of CME, click here to view a list of blog posts related to the topic of "CME."


  1. It's important when developing this type of needs assessment that you take care to identify the needs of the target audience rather than those of the drug company as these needs are not necessarily the same. Avoid biased questions in a needs assessment survey that are pushing the company's agenda rather than identifying the physicians' needs. Physicians always prefer an unbiased educational opportunity that doesn't make them feel like they need to bathe after attending the event.

  2. what is a "root cause" for a cme activity?