Planner FAQ

Who may serve as Course Directors?

  • For reasons of financial accountability and adherence to Stanford policies, the Primary Course Director should be a physician faculty member employed by the Stanford School of Medicine for at least 50% of the time. Non physician faculty members may be considered for leadership positions based on compelling need; this requires prior approval by the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Medical Education or the Director of the Stanford Center for CME. Community practitioners with voluntary clinical appointments, non-physicians and community health partners may participate as a course co-director in concert with a Stanford School of Medicine physician faculty member.

What is the first step in creating a course?

The Primary Course Director will meet with a manager from SCCME (conferences and workshops, regularly scheduled series or online courses) to discuss the education he or she wants to develop. The manager will evaluate the proposed activity to ensure that it is consistent with the Center’s mission. The manager will also ensure there are sufficient resources to support the proposed activity and the Stanford Department/Institute/Division requesting the continuing medical education (CME) activity is prepared to financially backstop activity deficits. In addition, key planning tasks will be reviewed during this meeting. The consultation results in a collaborative decision regarding the appropriateness of the concept for certified continuing medical education.

If the activity moves forward, the manager will provide you with a CME Application, other required documents, and will answer your initial questions about the course you want to plan. The Course Director will then work with SCCME staff to complete the CME Application and along with a Course Director Responsibility Agreement and CME Disclosure and Attestation forms from all Course Directors and planners.

Who will be my contact person at SCCME?

Please see “What is the first step in creating a course” above for information about the initial meeting with the manager.

How long does the CME Application Review Process for courses typically take?

  1. Initial review: Examines compliance with ACCME requirements, educational design, and completion of all needed documents
  2. Feedback provided to the Course Director on items identified in the initial review
  3. Course Director updates CME Application and provides any needed additional materials
  4. Second review: Examines areas identified for change and either finds the CME Application complete and it is sent for Accreditation Review or it is sent back to Course Director for additional needed changes
  5. Accreditation Review: Ensures the CME Application and supporting documents are in full compliance with ACCME Requirements. If requirements are met, Application is sent for review and approval by the Associate Dean, Postgraduate Medical Education. If additional changes are required, Application is sent back to Course Director for additional changes

What are the CME Application submission dates?

CME Applications for conferences and workshops should be submitted 10 MONTHS prior to the activity date. Regularly Scheduled Series are certified annually (September 1 – August 31). Applications should be submitted by June 29 of the academic year preceding desired certification. Applications for online courses should be submitted at least 7 MONTHS prior to the desired release date.

What if I have questions about filling out the CME Disclosure and Resolution of Conflicts of Interest forms for CME activities?

Please contact the Manager associated with your activity type or your assigned Coordinator.

What is a Conflict of Interest?

Conflict of Interest (COI): In continuing medical education (CME), circumstances create a conflict of interest when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content about products or services of a commercial interest (see definition below) with which he/she (or his/her spouse or partner) has a financial relationship.

The ACCME considers financial relationships to create actual conflicts of interest in CME when individuals have both a financial relationship (in any amount) with a commercial interest and the opportunity to affect the content of CME about the products or services of that commercial interest.

COIs are identified by reviewing disclosed financial relationships on the CME Disclosure form to determine if they are related to the content of the proposed CME activity. SCCME has mechanisms in place to manage and resolve all conflicts of interest for individuals involved in the planning and implementation of certified CME activities. A SCCME Coordinator (and as needed other SCCME staff)  will work with the Course Director to ensure any conflicts of interest are identified and resolve them before the CME activity occurs.

What is a Commercial Interest?

Commercial Interest:  Any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients with the exemption of non‐profit or government organizations and non‐health care related companies. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical services directly to patients to be commercial interests (e.g. liability/health insurance providers, group medical practices, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers). 

What is a Financial Relationship?

Financial Relationships:   Those relationships in which the individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest (e.g., stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit. Financial benefits are usually associated with roles such as employment, management position, independent contractor (including contracted research), consulting, speaking and teaching, membership on advisory committees or review panels, board membership, and other activities from which remuneration is received, or expected in the last 12 months.  With respect to personal financial relationships, contracted research includes research funding where the institution receives the grant and manages the funds and the person is the principal or named investigator on the grant.

The ACCME  considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

If either the person involved in the CME activity or their spouse/partner is employed by a commercial interest, the ACCME considers there to be a non-resolvable conflict of interest and thus these individuals may not participate in the planning or teaching of the CME activity. The only exception is if the course content is unrelated to products or services provided by the commercial entity. See ACCME Policy  and ACCME Compliance Reminder: Resolution of Conflicts of Interest for clarification.

When are the CME Disclosure and Attestation and Resolution of Conflict of Interest forms due?

For Course Directors and Planners: The CME Disclosure and Attestation forms should be completed during your pre-planning phase (after your initial consultation with the SCCME) and submitted to your CME Coordinator. Course Directors without a conflict of interest (“non-conflicted”) are responsible for resolving planners’ identified conflicts of interest (COIs) prior to any CME activity planning. If the Course Director is conflicted, then a non-conflicted physician planner must take the action necessary to resolve the conflict(s). Documentation of the resolution must be submitted with the CME Application using the appropriate Resolution of Conflict of Interest form.

For Content Reviewers: The CME Disclosure and Attestation forms should be completed prior to conducting the content review and submitted to a non-conflicted Course Director (or non-conflicted Planner when the Course Director is conflicted) for review. Reviewers must be non-conflicted so resolution of conflict of interest is not necessary. Content reviewers must have expertise in the subject to be reviewed.

For Presenters, Authors, and Moderators: The CME Disclosure and Attestation forms should be completed prior to presenting, moderating, or releasing written/online content. Course Directors are responsible for resolving presenters’, moderators’, and authors’ relevant reported conflicts of interest and documenting the action/method to resolve the conflict(s). If the Course Director is conflicted, then a non-conflicted physician designee must take the action necessary to resolve the conflict(s). Conflicts of interest for individuals in these roles must be resolved prior to the commencement or release of the activity.

What if I want to seek Commerical Support?

Designated financial commercial support for conferences and workshops and online activities is allowed if the following conditions have been met:

This support is limited to activities in areas previously designated by the Strategic Advisory Committee (SAC) for curricular development;

  • Activity planning is independent of commercial control;
  • Review by the SAC and the Stanford Center for Continuing Medical Education (SCCME) finds the activity to be free of commercial bias;
  • Industry support is sought in collaboration with and under the auspices of the SCCME

The first step in the process for seeking financial commercial support is working with the appropriate manager for conferences and workshops or online activities to complete the Internal Commercial Support Request for review by the SAC. These Requests are submitted to: Additional information about the processes for seeking financial commercial support can be found on SCCME’s Commercial Support page .

To seek in-kind commercial support, you will work with your SCCME Coordinator and the Grant Proposal and Award Generalist. Please discuss your in-kind support needs with your SCCME Coordinator.

Can commercial employees plan or instruct in CME activities?

Commercial employees may not participate in the planning of CME activities. Commercial employees may serve as an instructor in Stanford CME activities only under narrowly defined circumstances. An employee of a commercial entity may present on: the scientific or discovery process itself, the results of basic (biologic, chemical, physical) research studies relevant to the clinical problem being addressed but not those specific to a commercial product or its preclinical and clinical testing, and CME topics other than those related to the products and business lines of his/her employer. Commercial employees may neither teach about their products nor offer recommendations regarding patient care. Permission for a commercial employee to act as instructor in a Stanford CME activity must be obtained in advance (in the activity pre-planning phase) from the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Medical Education and the employees’ participation must be closely monitored by course leadership. If you have questions, please contact your CME Manager.

Contact Information

General Inquiries

Phone: +1 (650) 497-8554 
Fax: +1 (650) 497-8585 or +1 (650) 498-5020