Glossary for the Standards for Substantive Equivalency between Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation Systems


Accredited education (Activity) – An educational   offering that is planned, implemented, and evaluated in accordance with the accrediting body’s policies.

Accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) Provider – An organization authorized by an accrediting body to assume the responsibility and accountability for the development of accredited CME.

Accrediting Body – The organization that sets and enforces the standards for CME activities and/or CME provider organizations through the review and approval of organizations or  applications for the provision of CME and to monitor and enforce guidelines for these organizations or activities.  

Commercial Interest – Any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing healthcare goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients.

Commercial Support – Monetary or in-kind contributions given by a commercial interest to a CME provider that is used to pay all or part of the costs of a CME activity.

Competence – The degree to which learners show in an educational setting how to do what the activity intended them to do.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) – The process by which healthcare professionals engage in activities designed to support their continuing professional development. Activities are derived from multiple instructional domains, are learner centered, and support the ability of those professionals to provide high-quality, comprehensive, and continuous patient care and service to the public or their profession. The content of CME can be focused not only on clinical care, but also on those attitudes/skills necessary for the individual to contribute as an effective administrator, teacher, researcher, and team member in the healthcare system. Note: CME is often used interchangeably with continuing professional development (CPD).

Continuing Medical Education Provider – An organization with the responsibility and accountability to develop accredited educational activities.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) –The learning journey of the healthcare professional as he/she seeks to improve her/his competence and expertise. This learning journey is supported by continuing medical education and other personal/professional activities by the learner with the intention of providing safe, legal, and high-quality services aiming at better health outcomes for the patients and the community. Note: CPD is often used interchangeably with continuing medical education (CME).

Credit/Units – The “currency” assigned to accredited CME activities. Medical doctors and other healthcare professionals use credits to meet requirements for maintenance of licensure, maintenance of specialty board certification, credentialing, membership in professional societies, and other professional privileges.

Independence in CME/CPD – All elements of the design, development and execution of the activity were made free from the control of a commercial interest and/or any other undesired influence.

Knowledge – The degree to which learners state what and/or how to do what the activity intended them to know and/or know how to do.

Needs Assessment – Method(s) used to identify the perceived and unperceived needs of an identified target learners.

Organizer of Accredited Education – Persons or entities deemed eligible to plan, present and evaluate accredited education in an activity-based accreditation system.

Patient Health – The degree to which the health outcome of patients improves due to changes in the practice behavior of learners.

Performance – The degree to which learners do what the CME activity intended them to be able to do in their practice.

Substantive Equivalency – Substantive equivalency is a relationship between accrediting bodies based on shared principles and values, while recognizing and accepting differences. The purpose of substantive equivalency is to foster international collaboration among accrediting bodies, facilitate continuous improvement in accreditation, expand opportunities for physicians and healthcare teams to participate in high-quality CPD around the world, and promote education that contributes to healthcare improvement for patients and their communities.