EU-ACME steps into the (online) future

27 July 2010

Six years after its foundation in 2004, the European Urology-Accredited Continuing Medical Education (EU-ACME) programme has attracted the participation of more than 14,000 urologists from 21 national urological associations. About 50% actively participate or earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, reflecting the importance of the EU-ACME programmes amongst urology professionals.

And yet one may ask why the EU-ACME has not reached a higher number of participants if indeed its influence has become widespread. We presume there are several underlying reasons: first, in some European countries urologists do not (not yet) ‘need’ CME credits; second, there are accredited congresses, workshops or meetings that are still not reported to the EU-ACME; and third, aside from attending meetings there are other opportunities to gain credits such as taking CME online – activities which are not yet fully recognised.

Knowledge assessment – EU-ACME/ESU pilot project
The prerequisite to collect CME credits for urologist is participation in the accredited events. The CME provider is obliged to provide actual attendance of physicians at the event by e.g. using scanners offered by the EU-ACME office. Although our method is already well accepted, we and others are convinced that the time someone spends in lecture room says little about the knowledge actually gained.

The EU-ACME and the European Board of Urology
(EBU) are discussing how to implement methods of evaluating the knowledge gained by participants during, for example, ESU courses. As a result the EU-ACME – together with the EBU and the ESU – started a pilot project at the EAU congress in Barcelona last April. For the fist time the knowledge gained in two ESU courses was assessed by pre and post-course evaluations using multiple choice questions (MCQs). The participants were asked to answer the MCQs before the course starts and again the same set of MCQs after the course using ARS (Audience Response System) keyboards.
Moreover, three months after the course participants will be contacted and asked about the benefit of the course. The results will be mailed to all those who wish to receive the individual results. The evaluation itself was anonymous, however each participant had a number on its keyboard allowing to compare pre and post results.

Results
The first pilot ESU course was entitled ‘Retropubic radical prostatectomy– tips, tricks and pitfalls’ and was chaired by Professor H. Van Poppel (Leuven, BE). The pre and post knowledge assessment was taken by 45 participants who were asked five MCQs. In the second pilot ESU course, ‘Advanced management of urethral stricture disease’, chaired by Professor C.R. Chapple, Sheffield (GB), 36 participants took pre and post assessment test answering seven MCQs.

As expected the number of correctly answered questions after the courses significantly increased comparing to answers given at the beginning of the course: e.g. in one course – before 37% and after 60% and in another course – before 31% and after 51%. EU-ACME future goals.

There are several possibilities to evaluate average knowledge in individual countries. One of them is to extend the EBU ‘In-Service Assessment’ to practising urologists. More details at:www.eu-acme.org

In the future however we should therefore consider implementing pre and post-course MCQs as a method of evaluating the knowledge after participation in certain events, such as ESU courses and/or certain national events in selected parts of the scientific programme.

The EU-ACME office may assist in implementation / organisation of knowledge assessment (pre and post course evaluation) at national and international meetings and offers the logistical help. Other main goals of the EU-ACME office are the further increase in the awareness of EU-ACME services which are specially geared to participating urologists and national urological associations (NUAs).

The EU-ACME office also intends to address the requirements of organisers of accredited meetings. Aside from the need to boost the collaboration with NUAs, we also hope to further expand the number of NUAs participating in our programmes.