Introduction: Considerable time and money are invested in continuing medical education (CME) for family physicians (FPs) but the effectiveness is uncertain. The participation of FPs as coordinators and teachers is not well known. The goal of this project was to describe the role of FPs in organizing and teaching CME events that are accredited for FPs.
Methods: Information about accredited CME events occurring in Alberta and Nova Scotia was requested from universities, provincial chapters of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and pharmaceutical companies. Location, coordinating site, organizing committee members, teaching faculty, and format were recorded from each event. The number and proportion of FPs involved in both organizing and teaching CME events accredited for FPs were calculated and compared.
Results: A total of 314 CME events were collected, comprising a total of 1,472 hours of CME. From the CME events collected, there were 1,730 organizing committee members and 1,647 teachers. FPs constitute 59% of the organizing committees and 17% of the teachers. Significant differences in the numbers of FP planners and teachers were related to organizing group, format, location, and expected audience composition.
Discussion: The accreditation requirement for FPs on organizing committees likely helps preserve a reasonable proportion of FP organizers but not teachers in FP CME. The proportions of true FP planners and teachers may actually be lower than planning documents indicate. Low level of family physician teachers in CME may be due to FPs' not selecting FP teachers, the FP teaching pool's being inadequate, or the organizing committee's being unaware of FPs who are knowledgeable in particular areas.