Six strategies to use your CME during a pandemic

Most employed physicians receive dedicated funds for continuing medical education (CME).  This can range anywhere from $2000 to even $10,000 for the most generous of employers.  These CME funds are often used for meetings, and do not carry over to the following year.  The most common gripe we hear about CME funds is that it is never enough—medical conferences are expensive especially when vendors decide to gouge physicians.

Use your CME funds in paradise

Fast forward to 2020.  Most of us have unused CME funds, especially since most in-person conferences have been axed for the year and probably the early part of 2021.  Not sure how to use up your CME funds? Here’s a list of six options to use up the money that you are entitled to:

  1. Sign up for the White Coat Investor (WCI) Financial education courses.  For the week of Nov 23-30, they are offering 10% off all courses as well as free access to the Park City virtual course, which typically sells for $299.  There is a lot of financial education from well-known experts, and best of all, you can satisfy your CME requirements too.  There’s nothing like using your money to help you be smarter with your own money.
  2. Pay your society dues.  This includes your local, state, and national profession societies.  Most people don’t think to prepay subsequent years, even though it is usually possible.  If the website doesn’t have an option, just contact the administrator to your board.  They can often take payment via phone to pay several years’ worth of dues (if they are smart). 
  3. Buy electronics.  Laptops, chargers, phone battery packs, and other accessories that could help improve your efficiency at work often qualifies for CME funds.  Check with your employer for specifics on what is covered.
  4. Purchase personal protective equipment (PPE).  We all need it.  Masks and face shields are key to protection during the pandemic.  Even though your hospital or employer provides you with masks, it is prudent to have your own.  We have all put masks on rotation during the beginning of the pandemic and known how nasty that can be.  
  5. Buy apparel.  Scrubs and white coats have come a long way in fashion and pragmatic use.  Having spare scrubs to change into after work before you hop into your car goes a long way to minimize fomite transmission of disease.  Modern scrub designs are more flattering with practical pocket designs to make you more stylish and functional.
  6. Buy books, apps, and medical reference material.  All of us are pressed for time to read, but having updated reference material will help you out in a pinch.  Uptodate and subscription-based phone apps are helpful for quick calculations on your inpatients.  Now is the time to subscribe and get armed for the new year.

Remember, don’t leave money on the table.  If your employer provides CME funds, be sure to use them up.

What other strategies have you implemented to use CME funds this year?

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