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How to Spend CME Money in a Pandemic

Well, it's COVID still. Might as well get some ideas on how to spend your CME money during a pandemic.

Updated: February 28, 2024
By Modern MedEd

Medical Reviewer: Jordan P. Roberts, PA-C

How to Spend CME money in a pandemic

CME Money Ideas During COVID

Well I gotta say, this is not an article I was ever hoping to write. But because I’ve seen this topic come up over and over again in professional circles, on social media, and online, here we are. 

I’ll be drawing on some of my own experience as the leader of a CME committee and the owner of a website that depends a lot on finding you good CME. 

One of the most glaring changes to continuing medical education because of the pandemic is the lack of in-person CME conferences.

I typically get my annual credits through a combination of live CME conferences and online CME options, many of which I’ve written about before. 

For me at least, the primary benefit of live CME is socializing, seeing some of my best friends again, and visiting a new (or different) city.

I always negotiated a more-than-healthy CME budget back in my days of practicing, so it was not unusual for me to attend two or three out-of-state CME events a year, all 100% reimbursed. 

However, since traveling and socializing have become taboo, dangerous, or borderline illegal,* not to mention the institutional hesitation to spend money in a pandemic, our in-person, virus-infested CME conferences have not been an option for most of us this year. 

So, given the bonkers year that was 2020 (and with 2021 neck and neck), what’s the best, most creative way to spend your CME money during a pandemic (still)?

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1. Online CME Subscriptions

As if this answer wasn’t obvious enough. According to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, online CME will probably be even more popular than ever this year.

Live events seem implausible and other options are limited for the safety of medical professionals and the public.

You still want to be up-to-date, and online CME subscriptions can help. But with a plethora of options available, how do you know which to choose?

You might be interested in a free gift card with your CME, which are popular around the end of the year for what I hope are obvious reasons.

We’ve compiled an ever-updated list of the top online CME with gift card offers, but we’ll summarize the best subscription options below.

If you would rather forego the free gift card, that is an option with all of these CME subscriptions as well.

BoardVitals CME Professional

CME Gift Card Deals & Special Offers by Board Vitals

Board Vitals CME Pro Plus is consistently one of the most popular CME subscriptions you can buy.

They also offer board review and MOC question banks in dozens of specialties. Their specialty CME will run you $619 for 6 months or just $999 for a year. Note that you can get a two-year subscription buy purchasing two 1-year plans (for a total of $1,998), giving you the option to use more of your CME money if needed.

Not only that, but the CME content is updated just about daily by a team of almost-as-good-looking medical experts, so you know you are really getting the latest medical information.

Some of Board Vitals Medical Experts
BoardVitals Medical Experts Mobile
Lastly, I wouldn’t have been working with this company so long if I didn’t so strongly believe in what they are offering. Same goes for any product you can find on Modern MedEd.

Subscription options: 

  • 6 months: $619
  • 12 months: $999

See all Board Vitals CME offers

DosedDaily ENT CME Subscription

DosedDaily is a CME subscription that sends you one email per weekday containing a clinically-relevant question based on the latest evidence-based data.

The best part is that you can answer the question right from your email on your phone; no clicking through to another application.

Once a month, you'll receive a 5-question quiz that gets you CME and MOC, just like that.

Everyone gets a 30-day free trial, so if it's not for you, just cancel before the trial period ends.

They've also added PA-specific CME in hospital medicine, emergency medicine, primary care, and surgery. Same format, same convenience.  

Pricing & Plans for DosedDaily CME Subscriptions by Specialty

Click any of the images in the dropdowns below to go to the respective specialty plan and learn more or start your free trial. Each plan offers up to 24 category 1 CME credits.

1a. Online CME with Gift Card Bundles

If you’ve been here before, you know we have what is arguably some of the most popular and comprehensive lists of CME with gift card offers around.

We update throughout the year, so by the end of the calendar year, we also have the most-up-to-date list of CME with gift card bundles you can find on the internet. 

CME with a free gift card is a great option if you know you won't be reimbursed for the technology you need if purchased with your CME fund.

That's because most of the CME comes with an Amazon gift card, where you can get just about anything.

Using the gift card to upgrade your phone or get a portable tablet allows you complete the CME and use the point-of-care medical apps that make you a better clinician.

Oakstone CMEinfo Insider

CMEinfo Insider is a comprehensive, evidence-based online resource for clinicians of any career stage. One of the reasons this option is so popular is the frequent content updates during your subscription.

CMEinfo Insider also wins the longest CME subscription available, with options up to 3 years. Don't think you'll run out of content in that amount of time, either.

As soon as you think you’ve exhausted all there is, you’ll find another new pearl has been added that you can start integrating into your practice right away.

CMEinfo Insider also gives you always-updated access to CME in your specialty, plus 14 others. 

Subscription options range from one to three years, so get it now and you’ll be set until the next pandemic.

Subscription options: 

  • One year: $1,999
  • Two years: $2,999
  • Three years: $5,449

Get yours here.

Practical Reviews On-Demand CME

If you ever wanted a team of clinicians in your specialty to scour the latest journals and distill it into what you really need to know, you are not alone.

Practical Reviews does just that, with over 200 medical experts pouring over 500 journals so folks like you and I don’t have to.

This is what CME is all about if you ask me. Though it's unclear who has the best-looking medical experts between them and Board Vitals.

Practical Reviews Subscription options: 

  • One year: $599
  • Two years: $1,198

Read our Review of Practical Reviews

512x512- Nov 14-Dec 4 - Black Friday and Cyber Monday- Get 30% Off on CME.

Audio Digest CME

The Audio Digest Foundation is one of those CME institutions that has been around forever. Well, at least 70 years by their count. It’s convenient, timely, and regularly updated, just like any good continuing education.

Just like the options above, it’s updated all the time, and you don’t need any new subscription to access the new content. 

Audio Digest offers Amazon or Bank of America gift cards worth up to $2000, depending on the size of your purchase. Alternatively, you can select a comparable size discount if you don't want the gift card.

You’ll also be eligible for an additional $100 on your gift card when you purchase a subscription for $399 or more through one of our links.

If you spend less, then you still get extra gift card money; $50 for purchases less than $399. 

Subscribe to Audio Digest CME here.

 Subscription options: 

  • Too many to list here. Take a look at the sample screenshot below or read our AudioDigest review.
  • Gift card options up to $3,000 (Amazon or Bank of America) + 2-year membership
  • Get an extra $100: Audio-Digest.org

Tap to enlarge

2. Earn CME at the Point of Care

Just because your summer conferences were cancelled, it doesn’t mean you can’t be around people when you earn your CME.

By now, you are likely familiar with a few ways you can earn CME at the bedside; there are tons of great medical apps out there that do this. However, you have other, dare I say – better, options now.

There are hundreds of paid and free medical apps out there. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty particular about paying for an app.

That's one reason I've whittled it down to what I consider to be the three most useful medical apps to buy with your leftover CME money. Spoiler alert; VisualDx with Derm Expert and MDCalc both made the list. 

VisualDx + DermExpert

VisualDx is my favorite option for CME if you want to learn as you work. 

It’s a user-friendly clinical decision support system enhanced by artificial intelligence algorithms. Sounds intimidating, but I promise using it is anything but.

The key features include an evidence-based, customized differential diagnosis generator with guided workup based on symptoms, chief concern, or any number of other findings.

Every search earns you 0.5 CME credits, which will add up quickly if you look things up as often as I do. 


DernExpert is the even stronger version of VisualDx. Instead of coming up with a range of differential diagnoses based on a presentation, you can get a solid ddx based on an image alone.

They are able to do this because they have one of – if not the – largest medical image libraries in the world working hand-in-hand with the artificial intelligence component. I tried it out on my newborn daughter to put it to the test and well, see for yourself

Readers of this website can also get 20% off an annual subscription to VisualDx by entering the code MODERNMEDED20 at checkout.

DernExpert is the even stronger version of VisualDx. Instead of coming up with a range of differential diagnoses based on a presentation, you can get a solid ddx based on an image alone.

They are able to do this because they have one of – if not the – largest medical image libraries in the world working hand-in-hand with the artificial intelligence component. I tried it out on my newborn daughter to put it to the test and well, see for yourself

Readers of Modern MedEd (that's you!) can opt for a two or three year subscription to VisualDx by purchasing from a link on our site. No promo code needed.

One or two year access | Unlimited CME | Free iPad:

  • 12 month subscription (VisualDx  & DermExpert): $299 with our offer (normally $499/year)

Get VisualDx with DermExpert today.


You probably already know about MDCalc. By their estimates, almost all of us have used the free resource at one time or another.

But you may not have known they recently launched their own CME bundle with a free Amazon gift card. 

After purchasing, you’ll have a year to log your CME credits by using and reading the calculators you already know and trust.

I’ve never not learned something by reading through one of their calcs.

Premium MDCalc CME Gift Card Subscriptions

  • Unlimited: 1-year subscription with unlimited CME credits + $3,500 gift card – $5,999
  • Plus 75: 1-year subscription with 75 CME credits/yr + $1,600 gift card – $2,999
  • Plus 65: 1-year subscription with 65 CME credits/yr + $1,050 gift card – $1,999
  • Plus 50: 1-year subscription with 50 CME credits/yr + $400 gift card – $999
MDCalc CME with 3500 Gift Card
Now offering a free gift card up to $3,500 with your CME purchase

Just in case we aren’t clear, MDCalc is one of those great point of care tools that will earn you CME credits as you use it, plus has CME with gift card options. I can’t recommend it enough for either one.

3. Attend a Virtual CME Conference

Like many of you, this was the first year that I attended a virtual CME conference. This was also my first year in charge of putting the virtual CME conference together.  Let me explain.

At the time of writing, I was in my third year as chair of a CME committee for a group that puts on two CME conferences per year. My second year in this role happened to be 2020. You see where this is going, right?

I was ready to use everything I learned the previous year to put on a great live CME conference. Then COVID. So my second year as CME chair felt a lot like the first. 

In any case, the folks at the organization did an incredible job, the conference went smoothly and looked incredibly professional, and I got to take all the credit for their hard work.

Not really, but the conference was fantastic, waaay better than I ever expected a virtual CME conference could be. It is definitely an experience I’d recommend all clinicians try at least once.

If you are looking for specific virtual CME conferences, Master Clinicians does a great job with a range of topics in urgent care, primary care, emergency medicine, telemedicine, and more.

This could be you

4. Book a Post-Pandemic Live CME Conference

At the time of writing, there are a handful of optimistic CME conference holders who are planning to meet next year. To their credit, they also have a virtual contingency meeting for when they all realize it’s still COVID next May.

That said, it may not be such a terrible idea to use your remaining CME funds early this year. If you are looking for something new, try one of these unconventional CME ideas.

There is a lot of uncertainty out there, even for clinicians, so I’d probably spend it while you have it in case some administrator gets the bright idea to cut everyone’s CME stipend in December.

Maybe just look for a conference with refundable rates and flexible travel arrangements if this is your choice.

Villa Palme Holiday Croatia
Don't You Miss Places?

More CME Money Tips & Strategies

Want more? Looking for more ways to spend your CME fund?

Or just want to see what other CME with gift card bundles are out there? We have you covered, as always.

Thanks for reading and thanks for everything you do. You’re awesome.

Originally Published: October 8, 2020

Further Reading

VisualDx CME Disclaimer

*This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the ACCME through the joint providership of Med-IQ and VisualDx.

Med-IQ is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Med-IQ designates this point of care activity for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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