Evolving professional, social and political pressures highlight the importance of lifelong learning for clinicians. Continuing medical education (CME) facilitates lifelong learning and is a fundamental factor in the maintenance of certification. The type of CME differs between surgical and non-surgical specialties. CME methods of teaching include lectures, workshops, conferences and simulation training. Interventions involving several modalities, instructional techniques and multiple exposures are more effective. The beneficial effects of CME can be maintained in the long term and can improve clinical outcome. However, quantitative evidence on validity, reliability, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of various methods is lacking. This is especially evident in urology. The effectiveness of CME interventions on maintenance of certification is also unknown. Currently, many specialists fulfil mandatory CME credit requirements opportunistically, therefore erroneously equating number of hours accumulated with competence. New CME interventions must emphasize actual performance and should correlate with clinical outcomes. Improved CME practice must in turn lead to continuing critical reflection, practice modification and implementation with a focus towards excellent patient care.