Category 1 CME for Quality or Performance Improvement

Definition: Hospitals, health systems, clinics, medical schools and other duty-of-care providers with quality improvement activities with participating PAs can have their projects approved for AAPA Category 1 QI/PI-CME credit. The organization should apply as the CME provider and award credit to PAs who participate in the activity. This model is most relevant when a whole team is involved and more than one PA participates. QI/PI-CME activities also engage learners to reflect upon their role in team-based care and how they might improve patient outcomes by altering their own approach or methods. PI-CME activities provide a structure in which to define and measure one aspect of their current practice, modify their approach or methods, and then evaluate the impact of those changes. In 2019 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a change to the Quality Payment Program MIPS. One category where participants can earn points is via “Completion of an Accredited Safety or Quality Improvement Program.” In its description, CMS weighs this as a medium weight activity.


Accreditation Period:  Two clinical years (up to 24 consecutive months). Clinical year start and end dates are specified within the application.

Type of Credit Issued:  AAPA Category 1 QI/PI-CME credit

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The activity must comply with AAPA CME Criteria (PDF).
  2. This request type is only available to hospitals, health systems, clinics, medical schools, and other duty-of-care providers.
  3. The quality improvement project must have PA participation.
  4. The application must include the following:
    • Project goals
    • Quality improvement methodology
    • Project time frame
    • Criteria for level of participation required to receive CME credit
  1. At the end of the accreditation period, the CME provider must provide a project summary to include information on participation, baseline data, interventions, results achieved and lessons learned.


Tips for a Successful Application

  1. Approval of a PI-CME activity by a physician organization does not automatically ensure AAPA approval of the same activity.
  2. Gather any additional material that you think will assist in the review. Some examples include previous application documents, other PI activities at this location, etc.
  3. Understand that NCCPA weighting of PI-CME activities occurs only after a PA logs the credits with NCCPA. NCCPA doubles the first 20 AAPA Category 1 PI-CME credits that a PA logs in every two-year cycle for certification maintenance purposes, NCCPA itself applies the weighting after a PA logs the credit. PAs simply need to log the hours that are earned and NCCPA will make adjusts to CME weighting.
  4. CME certificates should display the number of credits that AAPA approved. Advise PAs to log with NCCPA the number of credits shown on their certificate. NCCPA will then apply the additional weighting for that activity within the PA’s record (unless the PA has already logged 20 PI-CME credits in that cycle).

QI/PI Activities may conform to the structure below:

  1. Stage A – Performance Measurement
    Perform a self-assessment by comparing the learner’s current practice in a specific clinical area with national benchmarks, performance guidelines, and data submitted by other healthcare providers.
  2. Stage B – Intervention/Improvement Plan
    Develop educational activities to improve the learner’s practice based on assessment.
  3. Stage C – Re-Measurement
    Perform a reassessment of learner’s practice to measure the effects of the improvement plan.


Supporting Document Templates to Attach to Your Application (optional)

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