Continuing Education Company Logo
CME News

What is a CEU and What’s the Difference Between CME and CEU?

Any medical professional will tell you how important their training was for their career. And as they progress, continuing that training, revisiting old content, and staying up to date on new topics are just as crucial to ensuring the best outcomes for their patients.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is a big part of that, but when young medical professionals are looking into fulfilling their requirements, there's often confusion surrounding Continuing Medical Education, Continuing Education (CE), and Continuing Education Units (CEU).

Here, we'll explain the differences between CME, CE, and CEU, and how the three relate to your continued development as a medical professional.

What is a CEU?

On a general level, a Continuing Education Unit is a way for professionals who have already received formal training from a university or other educational institution to touch up on old concepts or stay up to date on new practices. CEUs are offered in a variety of fields, from engineering to teaching. A CEU is equivalent to 10 hours of Continuing Education.

Continuing Education is particularly common and important in the medical field. New revelations are rapidly uncovered and technology constantly improves in medicine; so it's of utmost importance that people in charge of patient health have the most recent data/info/equipment at their disposal. When physicians undertake training and educational programs as required to maintain their license, they do so through Continuing Medical Education courses or programs.

At its simplest, the difference between CME and CE is that Continuing Education applies to all licensed medical professionals, whereas Continuing Medical Education applies primarily to physicians. In essence, all CME is CE, but not all CE is CME.

Who Needs CEUs?

While continuing education requirements for physicians or nurses may seem like a no-brainer, CEUs are a licensing requirement for all licensed medical professionals, such as:

  • Nurses and physicians
  • Medical technologists
  • Psychologists
  • Medical librarians
  • Pharmacists

Just as it's important for physicians to remain firmly rooted in best practices by touching up on them periodically, the medical professionals whose work complements and supports physicians and nurses also need to stay up to date on technology, security, and medical best practices.

How Much CE or CME Do You Need?

CME and CE credit requirements vary according to each state and profession. By way of example, the State of Wisconsin Medical Examining Board requires physicians to complete 30 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ every two years, whereas Florida requires 40 hours every two years. Colorado, South Dakota, and Montana are outliers that don't require CME for physicians to renew their licenses.

There are many types of CE programs available, but it's important to keep in mind that depending on your profession, only certain credits will count toward your CEU requirements, so before you register for CE activities, make sure they will count. Each state's regulatory board has clear guidelines on what the CEU requirements are for each profession.

When you plan what programs you will take, keep in mind that individual states can also impose specific requirements for CME and CE subject matter. For example, many states require a designated number of hours of CME or CE to focus specifically on restricted substances like opioids or benzodiazepines.

What Are the Different Categories of CME?

We mentioned above that Wisconsin physicians need 30 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ every two years. But Category 1 implies there are other types of CME, so what are they?

As you know, medical professions are very diverse. Depending on how experienced a person is, their area of focus, and whether they practice in a hospital or an educational setting can influence the kinds of CME requirements they either need to fulfill or choose to pursue.

The different kinds of CME are broken down into two main categories:

AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ are more specific. What your AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ focus on will be largely dependent on your specialty and geographic location. These credit requirements can be fulfilled by partaking in conferences and lectures, both live and online.

AMA PRA Category 2 Credits™ are more comparable to elective-type learning and educational experiences. Category 2 CME credits are self-claimed and self-reported activities that aren’t certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. These activities demonstrate a physician’s dedication to improving themselves or the medical community as a whole, and may be academic in nature. Activities such as teaching, reading relevant, authoritative medical journals or studies, or conducting research can often be claimed as AMA PRA Category 2 Credits™

How to Accrue Category 1 CME Credits

The easiest way to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ is to participate in activities sponsored by an ACCME-accredited provider, like the Continuing Education Company. The Continuing Education Company is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to furthering the development of medical and healthcare professionals across the country. The Continuing Education Company’s accredited curriculum is developed by physicians, pharmacists, and educators with extensive clinical and CME experience.

Whether you're seeking to obtain CME credits in person or online, the Continuing Education Company has you covered. With a variety of family-friendly destination conferences and live webcasts, these programs are a great fit for medical professionals no matter your needs.

Ready to learn more? Check out our calendar of upcoming events and register for one of the Continuing Education Company’s CME conferences to experience the CEC difference yourself.

Are you looking to expand your knowledge and skills in your field?

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Then, you need to check out our amazing courses!

Subscribe to our Newsletter and stay up to date with Conferences and our best deals