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Virtual and online physician wellness CME options during this stressful time

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It’s more important than ever to take time for your own physical and mental health. Physician burnout CME is a great way to help maintain your wellbeing, and it comes with the added bonus of credits for your maintenance of certification and state license requirements.

You’d probably benefit from a physician burnout CME course right about now

Burnout was a hot topic even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In fact, back in 2017, the ABMS put out a call for accredited CME activities that support the development of high-functioning physicians and address physician wellness and burnout.

Physicians are now at an even higher risk of burnout as their practices are disrupted and their hospitals are overloaded and short on supplies. Moreover – along with those outside of the healthcare field – physicians’ daily routines are fractured and the sense of uncertainty can be overwhelming. Though you may feel like you can’t spare time on yourself right now, doing so will make you a better doctor, co-worker, friend, and family member.

The physician burnout CME options below cover a range of formats and prices. I’ve tried to include something for every situation a doctor may be in right now:

Strapped for time? There are physician wellbeing CME courses that take as a little as 30 minutes of your time.

Bummed that your usual conferences got canceled? Dedicate a weekend to a virtual retreat and pretend you’re earning CMEs in Ft. Lauderdale.

Already know the tools and techniques for preventing burnout? A quick one-hour online course will refresh your skills, earn you a CME credit, and likely teach you at least one tidbit of new information.

Have a CME allotment from your employer to use up for the year? Take full advantage of it with a comprehensive online physician burnout CME course.

Feeling like you’re already burned out? It’s not too late, but don’t delay in learning about and addressing the causes. Many of the courses below acknowledge that burnout may have already set in.

Need your CME credits fast? A great thing about online CME is that you can do it from anywhere, at any time. You can rapidly earn credits and quickly gain skills to maintain wellness and balance in your life.

Virtual physician wellness CME retreats and live courses from your own home

Stress-reduction and meditation techniques

Jill Wener, MD, is an expert in meditation, wellness, and connecting with your life in a meaningful way. Collectively, she refers to these as “conscious health” and she has excellent virtual options specifically designed for doctors to learn more about it.

One of them is a live virtual program: the Women in Healthcare Virtual Meditation Retreat (sorry, men). It takes place over the course of a weekend and several shorter follow-up sessions over the following month, including a one-on-one session with Dr. Wener. You’ll learn about conscious health meditation, a stress reduction technique called tapping, and more. Six of the retreat’s hours are eligible for CME.

Males as well as any women physicians wishing to earn CME but unable to dedicate a whole weekend to a retreat can enrolled in a shorter, more targeted 6-credit, 15-module program. This focuses on the REST Technique, a simple and effective meditation technique for the busy mind.

Reconnect with your purpose and your passions

Another great option for women physicians (again, sorry, men) is the Burn Bright course led by the co-founders of the Women in White Coats blog, Drs. Amber Robins and Anchana Shrestha. You’ll earn 17 CME credits while learning about a variety of career and lifestyle topics, includin gadding telemedicine or lifestyle medicine to your practice, dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, and achieving financial independence.

This course, which costs about $700, is unique in that it integrates asynchronous modules, live sessions, and solo assignments, all taking place over the course of a year.

Wellness in the context of career development and leadership

You may not need stress-reduction and wellness education for yourself, but would like to learn more about it for the benefit of staff you oversee, students you teach and mentor, or colleagues you work with. In this case, consider an online CME course that includes leadership skills, career-building strategies, and organizational impact competencies along with burnout and wellness topics.

Harvard Medical School offers the 18-credit CME course Strategies and Skills Development for Career Advancement and Leadership that can be either streamed live in November or taken on-demand. The cost for this 3-day course is around $1000, depending on when you register.

In-depth, on-demand physician burnout CME options

Learn how to meditate for both yourself and your patients

A neat thing about physician wellness CME is that you can use what you learn for your own well-being, but also to educate your patients about certain tools and techniques to take charge of their own health.

The American Meditation Institute offers the Online Video Meditation Course that teaches you how to meditate as well as the science behind meditation. It also incorporates yoga and some holistic mind-body medicine principles. For under $500, you’ll get access to the full course of 40 sessions and you can earn up to 11 CMEs.

Physician wellbeing, burnout, and self-care courses from leading associations

As part of their Wellness Series of online courses, The American Association for Physician Leadership offers the 4-credit CME self-study course Practical Tools for Physician Self-Care. This course teaches physicians to recognize the impact of burnout on the medical industry, identify their needs related to burnout, and apply theory to a personal wellness plan. The price is $360, and AAPL members receive a discount.

The AAFP offers 5 CME credits on Physician Well-Being. This CME differs slightly from most of the others highlighted here in that it is comprised of written material instead of videos. At under $45, this is a great option for physicians who prefer reading over listening to learn new information. You’ll read about organizational strategies for physician burnout, improving efficiency in a medical practice, and financial aspects.

The Physician Burnout & Wellness CME Course offered by the AMA provides up to 11.5 CME credits for completion of modules on professional well-being, burnout in the healthcare workforce, burnout in medical education, and leading change as it relates to physician wellbeing. A great aspect of this course is that you can pick and choose which modules you’d like to complete, and earn 0.5 to 1 CME credit for each. Several of them are available at no cost!

Fast and free physician burnout CME

AMA is not the only organization offering free physician burnout CME. Here are a few other options to pick up a credit or two on this important topic without spending a dime.

JAMA’s Barriers to Joy in Medicine is a half-hour audio on the topic of physician burnout and a short quiz that will earn you up to 1 CME credit.

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Learn about Becoming a More Relaxed, Healthy Physician with AAFP’s 1.25-credit course that includes techniques to deal with both difficult emotions and difficult patients.

The Ohio Physician Wellness Coalition has a Physician Wellness Series that includes several free 1-hour, 1-credit CME activities on topics including:

  • Balancing it All
  • Mental Health Issues in Medical Students and Residents
  • Isolation and Socialization in Medical Professionals
  • Mental Wellness for the Attending Physician

Some physicians who are already very knowledgeable about burnout and wellbeing may want a CME course that is more specific to current events. A free 0.5-credit course on Managing COVID-19 Stress from Stanford will teach you strategies for reducing stress and optimizing self-care during this tough time.

Quick, 1-hour CME to balance your life

There are many short physician wellbeing CME courses that aren’t free, but are quite affordable. Two options below are offered by state medical societies, but don’t require membership to participate. Check with your own state society to see if they have any courses on this topic, as they are often offered at a reduced rate for members.

For $30 ($15 if you’re a member), you can earn 1 CME credit for taking the Massachusetts Medical Society’s course Running on Empty? Physicians’ Path to Enjoying Life and Medicine More.

My state society, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, offers CME credit for their $69 course Balance for Life. It includes a work-life balance self-assessment, a core values self-assessment, a weekly schedule template and reflections worksheet to help you stay balanced, and an exercise on positive perspectives.

Don’t waste your CME allowance and don’t let your wellbeing suffer

Don’t allow this year’s onslaught of cancelled professional conferences to put your CME allowance to waste! Instead, use that money to improve your wellbeing and learn how to identify and address symptoms of burnout. Even if you have no CME allowance or very little time to dedicate to CME, there are great options for simultaneously taking care of yourself and earning a CME credit or two.

Doctors are notorious for letting their own health slip while they care for their patients. Don’t let this happen to you. There is a reason that topics related to physician health and well-being quality for continuing education credits. Take advantage of these CME opportunities.

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