General CME FAQs

What is CME?

Continuing medical education (CME) consists of educational activities that serve to maintain, develop or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public or the profession. The content of CME is the body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine and the provision of health care to the public.

What is considered commercial support?

Commercial support is when a commercial interest contributes money to pay all or part of the costs of a CME activity. (Examples: meals, speaker honoraria or travel expenses, meeting space, etc.)

What is a letter of agreement and why is it required?

A letter of agreement (LOA) is a written agreement specifying the terms, conditions and purposes of the commercial support awarded by a commercial entity to a provider. All commercial support, both monetary and in-kind, requires a letter of agreement with a signature by the Houston Methodist OCME director or CME committee chairman and a signature by the supporting company. All support must be disclosed in writing to participants prior to the educational activity. A copy of the signed LOA should be dated and received prior to the live program date or enduring format release date.

Houston Methodist has very strict rules regarding commercial support of CME activities. If you are considering or intending to use commercial support for your activity, please contact the Office of CME prior to submitting your application to make certain your activity is in compliance with both Houston Methodist and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACCME) commercial support standards.

What is financial disclosure?

All individuals who are in a position to control the content of an educational activity are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships in any amount occurring within the past 12 months related both to content and to commercial supporters of the activity. Prior to the beginning of the educational activity, an individual must disclose to learners any relevant financial relationship(s):
  • Name of the individual
  • Name of the commercial interest(s)
  • Nature of the relationship the person has with each commercial interest

For an individual with no relevant financial relationship(s), the learners must be informed that no relevant financial relationship(s) exist.

What is conflict of interest and how can it be resolved?

A conflict of interest is present when individuals in a position to control the content of CME (or their spouses/partners) have a relevant personal financial relationship with a commercial entity that benefits the individual and may ultimately bias the presentation of that content to colleagues and participants.

If a perceived conflict exists, a provider must resolve any disclosed conflicts of interest prior to the beginning of the educational activity using one of any number of methods:

  • Alter Financial Relationships: Individual may choose to discontinue or alter their relationship with a commercial entity and eliminate any bias associated with the proposed CME content.
  • Alter Control over Content: Individual and/or Houston Methodist CME Office can elect to alter the educational design, format or content, or individual responsibilities to maintain the scientific rigor, integrity and balance of the CME activity.
  • Peer-Review of Content: Independent review and validation of content can verify the scientific biases and integrity of the content, as well as the consistency with the overall educational design. Peer review will follow two set standards:

Clinical medicine recommendations will be based on evidence currently accepted within the profession of medicine as acceptable justification for indications and contraindications for the care of patients.
Scientific research referenced, utilized and/or included in CME activities will conform to generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection and analysis.

Regularly Scheduled Series FAQs
The following questions are specific to Regularly Scheduled Series (RSS) and are organized into the relevant categories.


Is there a fee to certify my activity?

No fee exists for certifying Houston Methodist department activity.

Once I receive certification approval, do I need to provide any other information to the CME office?

You will need to be in constant contact with the CME office for all recordkeeping (i.e., speaker letters, disclosures, commercial support letters of agreement, schedules, advertising, sign-in sheets, evaluations, etc.).

Financial Disclosure

Who has to complete a financial disclosure form?

A financial disclosure form must be completed by anyone who is in the position to control the content of an educational activity. This means that Houston Methodist needs a signed form from the speaker, regardless of degree, training, expertise, faculty or non-faculty status, external or internal to Houston Methodist, and any other individuals who has any control of the content of the presentation.

How often must the form be signed?

Every speaker must sign a form at least once a year (prior to the first presentation) and then as appropriate if any of the information changes within the year. The planner and/or faculty member in charge of the series should complete a form and send it as part of the CME application.

May I fax the form to the speaker and receive it back via fax or must I have a signed original?

Faxed forms are acceptable, as are emailed forms.

What if the speaker signs the form, but does not check any boxes?

You will need to contact the speaker to clarify whether or not they have anything to disclose. Although they may not have checked any check boxes, we cannot assume they have nothing to disclose.

What should I do with the signed disclosure form received from the speaker?

The results MUST be shared with the audience. This can be done in a number of ways, such as posting it next to the sign-in sheet or posting it as the first or introductory slide on the screen. In addition to providing the written information, the disclosure results may also be verbally announced as part of the speaker introductions. These are just a few examples of disclosure methods.

Do I send the forms to the CME office?

Yes. We need the form, along with evidence that the disclosure was made to the audience and how it was presented.

Who is supposed to sign the second part of the disclosure form?

If there is any disclosure information checked, the course director needs to review the disclosure and make sure that no conflict of interest exists. If the possibility of conflict exists, it must be resolved using one of methods listed on the bottom of the form. The method that was used to resolve the conflict must be documented on the form and then signed by the course director before the presenter speaks.

Commercial Support

How do I secure commercial funds for my activity?

You will need to make a direct request to the commercial company.

Where do I get a copy of the commercial support LOA?

Request a copy of the LOA from the CME office; we will email it to you.

Can I or someone in my department sign the LOA?

No, the LOA must be fully executed through the CME office.

What paperwork needs to be sent to the CME office?

We need a copy of the fully executed LOA (all signatures included) before the activity begins.

What is the correct way to acknowledge commercial support?

Commercial support must be acknowledged at your event and should be worded as, “This activity is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from [name of commercial company].”

Can a commercial company be listed as a sponsor of our activity?

No. A commercial support company should never be listed as a sponsor of an activity. They can only be listed as a "supporter".

Can a commercial company provide meal(s) at our activity?

No, the commercial support company may provide an unrestricted educational grant from which the funds can be used to pay for a modest meal.

Promotional Materials and Schedules

Is there any specific wording that the CME office requires on the promotional material?

Yes. The most updated certification statement needs to be listed on any promotional material. If you receive commercial support, it must also be acknowledged.

Does the CME office need updated schedules if dates and times change?

Yes. It is very helpful if you send an updated schedule of activities to the CME office. Your activities will be posted on our website and we also attend activities for monitoring purposes.

Sheets and Certificates

When are the sign-in sheets due?
Sign-in sheets and all the required documentation are due within one month of the event.


How often do we need to evaluate our program?
At least yearly.

Do you need all of the evaluation forms?

For Additional Information

Contact us: 713.441.4971, CME@houstonmethodist.org