Last Updated 1 October 2020
By Jordan G. Roberts, PA-C
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Live CME vs CME Online
If you are looking for good continuing medical education online, you have plenty of options. You could have any number of reasons for choosing online CME over live CME this (or any other) year.
Personally, my wife and I are welcoming a new addition to the household just before ‘conference season’ starts this year. This makes online CME perfect for me as a soon-to-be (even more) sleep-deprived new parent who’ll want to spend as much time at home as possible. Not to mention that bug that’s going around.
Whether you can’t make it to a live CME conference, would prefer not to travel, or have something else entirely going on, there is no shortage of quality CME online in pretty much any specialty.
Here are our top picks based on popularity, ease of use, and bang for your buck, along with plenty of free CME options.
Board Vitals Online CME
Don’t see your area of clinical focus? With more than 40 specialties represented, there’s a good chance there is CME for you.
In addition to quality online CME, Board Vitals is also a top provider of CME with gift card offers, which can really help you get the most out of your CME allowance.
You can get access to Board Vitals CME Professional for six months for $599 or twelve months for $999. If you prefer a longer subscription, there is CME Pro Plus, which comes with twelve, eighteen, or twenty-four months access plus that free Amazon or American Express gift card.
Board Vitals CME Pro Plus
Board Vitals CME Pro Plus comes in the following preset options, though there is substantial customization available. Here are the standard choices for CME Pro Plus:
- 12 months: $1,995 plus get a $1,000 Amazon or American Express gift card
- 18 months: $2,895 plus get a $1,500 Amazon or American Express gift card
- 24 months: $3,800 plus get a $2,000 Amazon or American Express gift card
If that CME with a free gift card is what you are truly after, but your CME budget is different from that above, that’s okay. CME Pro Plus has a choose-your-own-price option, where you can customize your price, length of subscription, and score a free Amazon or American Express gift card worth up to $2,500. That’s the highest CME gift card reward in the industry. Try the choose-your-own-price tool.
Board Vitals Free Online CME
Finally, Board Vitals also has two new options for free online CME, which is also designed to help you meet your state CME requirements.
The first is their free Opioid Prescribing, Substance Use Disorder, and Pain Management CME, which will net you 10 hours of category 1 CME.
The other is worth 12 free category 1 credits consisting of pain management, palliative, and end of life care CME.
Try our free PANRE questions here; get up to 45 hours of category 1 CME with their new question bank just for PAs studying for recertification. More on this a few entries down.
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VisualDx CME: Reduce Diagnostic Error With Your Smartphone
VisualDx is one medical app that offers CME while also making your life in clinic so much less stressful. It allows you to quickly build a differential diagnosis based on presenting concerns or by taking a HIPAA-compliant picture of any skin lesion with the DermExpert package. The future has arrived, and it’s amazing.
- VisualDx: $399/year
- VisualDx + DermExpert: $499/year
You’ll have to select ‘create an account’ once you click through, after which you’ll be able to confirm or change your subscription level. Trust me, it’s so worth it. Here are some more entertaining details on VisualDx and VisualDx + DermExpert.
MDCalc: CME for Using Point of Care Calculators
MDCalc is one of the latest medical education teams to offer CME; the platform is still free for all to access, but you now have the option of purchasing a CME subscription, so you earn CMEs just by using their point-of-care calculators on your smartphone or desktop.
Purchasing a subscription helps support MDCalc as a free resource for millions around the world. Each purchase also comes with a free “thank you” gift set. Here’s the pricing schedule:
- Basic – $99/year (~$20/credit)
- Earn 5 category 1 CME credits per year
- Standard – $199/year (~$13/credit)
- Earn 15 category 1 CME credits per year
- Plus – $299/year (~$10/credit)
- Earn 30 category 1 CME credits per year
- Unlimited – $699/year
- Unlimited CME earning potential
- Bonus: free $250 gift card
Oakstone Online CME
Oakstone offers board review and convenient online CME for physicians, nurse practitioners, and PAs in over 40 medical specialties. Through their main continuing medical education products, CMEinfo and Practical Reviews, they offer some of the best recorded CME conferences, journal summaries, and more.
Oakstone’s online CME is constantly updated, so you know you are getting only the latest, most clinically relevant information. There are three main options for online CME with Oakstone.
First we have CMEinfo. It has CME covering just about everything from internal medicine to addiction medicine for non-addiction specialists to comprehensive reviews of dermatology, neurosurgery, and more.
In addition to a boatload of category 1 CME credits, CMEinfo is also extremely useful for earning MOC points.
It comes as online-only for $1,095, online + USB or audio MP3 (CD or USB) for $1,195, or a combination of both for $1,695.
Like with Practical Reviews above, there are often exclusive discounts you’ll find here. We’ll post them below whenever they are available.
On a related note, Oakstone also offers awesome CME with gift card offers, the flagship being their CMEinfo Insider. It has everything from CMEinfo above – in addition to a free Amazon gift card worth up to $2,000.
The library of content in CMEinfo Insider includes not only the latest updates in your primary specialty, but also gives you unlimited access to medical information in each of their other specialties. This literally corresponds to an ability to earn an unlimited amount of category 1 CME credits. Seriously, is there anything else out there like this?
There are over 18,000 journal summaries, but don’t worry, they all come with an audio companion that saves time and energy. Furthermore, you can also access over 1,230 board-review and clinical update activities via video.
It is available as a one year subscription plus a $1,000 gift card, a two year subscription plus a $1,500 gift card, or a three year subscription plus a $2,000 complimentary gift card. Check here to see if your specialty is included.
- 1-year subscription: $1,999 plus $1,000 Amazon or Apple gift card
- 2-year subscription: $2,999 plus $1,500 Amazon or Apple gift card
- 3-year subscription: $3,849 plus $2,000 Amazon or Apple gift card
You can read more about CMEinfo Insider here.
A third option, Practical Reviews, is a fast, efficient way to earn CME online. You’ll have access to audio expert reviews, text summaries, and carefully curated articles from leading medical journals covering 20 medical specialties.
A one-year term is normally $599 and a two-year term will run you $1,198 in total. In addition to the high-quality content, you have the ability to choose monthly audio CDs and printed abstracts for an additional $49.00.
Read more about Oakstone Practical Reviews.
By the way, they run special sales through partners like us every so often. Be sure to check back with us before purchasing, as we’ll link them below for you.
Spooky-Good CME Promotion until Oct 31, 2020
Audio Digest Online CME
Audio Digest Foundation offers some of the most comprehensive, current, and convenient CME online.
There are three options for membership to Audio Digest; silver, gold, and platinum.
Silver provides access to the latest releases in one specialty. A gold membership includes access to previous releases as well as the most current updates in a single specialty. There is also an extended library within your specialty. Lastly, a platinum membership includes unlimited access to the entire Audio Digest library covering 15 medical specialties from anesthesiology to urology.
Audio Digest is another top provider of CME with gift card offers. For a limited time, get an additional $100 Visa prepaid gift card with our referral when you purchase a full one-year Platinum Membership. Purchases of $399 or more are eligible for a $50 Visa gift card.
Hippo Education Digital CME
Hippo Education focuses their CME efforts on primary care, pediatrics, urgent care, and emergency medicine. Their audio CME is well produced, thoughtful, and hilarious all at the same time. You won’t be disappointed.
Their Reviews and Perspectives (RAPs) options all come with a free episode each month, so you can be sure it’s right for you before you purchase.
Online PANRE Board Review for PAs
Consider this a bonus entry of sorts. There is a new practice question bank for PAs studying for the PANRE that gets you 45 category 1 CME credits. And it’s from our friends at Board Vitals, makers of the popular CME with gift card offers.
It’s pretty good if I do say so myself, and I should know, I wrote half of it. Here are some free sample PANRE questions (interestingly, none of which I wrote) that you can try anytime.
The entire bank contains more than 900 board-style items with quality explanations and illustrations to help you understand the stuff you forgot over the last ten years. The interface is easy to look at and easy to use, even if you’ve spent all day with EPIC-induced hypertension. Plus, the analytics and insights it comes with are unbeatable.
To save ten percent, enter the promo code MODERN10 at checkout.
NetCE Online CME
NetCE is a popular, comprehensive place for physicians and PAs to get CME in bite-sized pieces at your own pace. The site has a variety of both free CME and paid CME covering just about every topic imaginable.
They also do a good job of matching you with your state licensure CME requirements and delivering exactly what you need. Talk about a stress-reliever. Furthermore, their paid CME is surprisingly affordable when broken down into a cost per credit basis.
AAFP CME Online
With content including family medicine CME, as well as continuing medical education in urgent care, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and more, there is sure to be something for almost every clinician here. Additionally, there is the option to sort by type of CME, including free CME (for members), live CME, and various self-study CME options.
Pri-Med CME Online
Pri-Med is an interesting option for getting short-bursts of primary care CME online. They have short, easy-to-digest modules ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 CME credits each. This is a good option for free online CME when you have a few moments and want to learn something new.
The Future of CME Online
Continuing medical education is a huge industry and is only growing larger each year. One of the key drivers of future growth is on-demand, location-independent CME. So it’s no question that online CME providers are filling this need.
As more online CME providers enter this space, we’ll do our due diligence and update this post as appropriate. For that reason, we’ve tried to make this an easily bookmarkable page you can periodically visit so you stay updated.
It would be counterproductive to try list every online CME provider out there, and that’s not the goal of this post. Rather, it is to provide options for well-known, high quality CME that we’ve independently used and vetted. Your CME money is precious. Use it wisely.