Continuing Medical Education

Needs Assessment Guidelines

Needs assessment is the systematic process of gathering information and using it to determine instructional solutions to close the gap between:

Actual: What learners know & do AND Optimal: What learners should know & do

Identification and analysis of CME needs provide the basis for developing educational objectives. The planning committee should ask the following questions:

  • How prevalent is the need among the target audience?
  • How many different assessment sources indicated this need?
  • How significantly will the unfulfilled need hinder health care delivery?
  • How directly is the need related to actual physician performance?
  • How likely is it that a CME activity will improve practice behavior?
  • Are sufficient resources available to effectively address this topic?
  • How receptive will the target audience be to a session on this topic?

Types of Needs Assessment

Submit with application:

  • Inferred needs which may be derived from the following:
    • New methods of diagnosis or treatment
    • Availability of new medication(s) or indication(s)
    • Development of new technology
    • Input from experts regarding advances in medical knowledge
    • Acquisition of new facilities or equipment
    • Legislative, regulatory, or organizational changes effecting patient care
  • Verbalized needs and interests which may be derived from the following:
    • Requests submitted on participants' activity evaluation forms
    • Formal surveys of potential participants (mail and Internet-based)
    • Informal comments
    • Patient problem inventories compiled by potential participants
    • Consensus of faculty members within a department or service area
  • Proven needs which are based on objective external data sources. These needs may be derived from the following:
    • Epidemiological data
    • Quality assurance/audit data
    • Re-credential review
    • Morbidity/Mortality
    • Statistics Infection control data
    • Surgical procedures statistics
    • Professional society requirements
    • Journal articles/literature citations
    • News media

Please view the following ACCME video on understanding moving beyond the traditional needs assessment.

Traditional Needs Assessment

Quality Data & Resources

For more information, please read Fall 2009 CME Highlights.

Last edited on 01/29/2015.