5 Affordable Online Controlled Substance CME Courses

With my latest employment transition came a reduction in my continuing medical education budget. My time attending annual CME vacations, correction, CME conferences, has come to an end. At least for now. So, when I learned of the State of Tennessee’s new regulations requiring nurse practitioners to obtain continuing medical education related to the prescribing of controlled substances, I searched for a more cost effective option than enrolling in a destination conference.

Similarly to Tennessee, many states are implementing controlled substance prescribing CME requirements. But, the online continuing education market still seems to be lagging when it comes to offering such courses. My search for affordable controlled substance related CME led me to the following five resources.

1. SAFE Opioid Prescribing by Pri-Med

Pri-Med has held a top spot in my online CME rankings since the start of my nurse practitioner career. The site is chock-full of free continuing education courses. These activities require anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours to complete. So, whether you’re furthering your education on your lunch break or while you get your oil changed, there’s a course to match your time constraints. Pri-Med’s SAFE Opioid Prescribing series offers multiple courses related to the prescribing of controlled substances. And, they’re free!

2. AANP CE Center

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners continuing education center offers CME courses covering a wide range of topics including opioid prescribing. For AANP members, access to the CE center is free. Non-members may complete continuing education through the AANP website for a $15 per course charge-a far more affordable option than enrolling in a professional conference.

3. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education

While famed Cleveland Clinic’s ‘Pain Pharmacology’ webcasts are more expensive than my prior two picks at $100 for the set, the resource still proves a cost effective way to obtain a quality controlled substance prescribing education. Course content covers topics from opiates and medication withdrawal to management of chronic headaches and drugs of abuse. Completion of the course set confers six hours of pharmacology continuing education credit.

4. Medscape Nurses 

Medscape is a free online resource for healthcare providers with a section of the site devoted to nursing professions. Courses such as “Managing Patients Who Abuse Prescription Drugs” qualify for pharmacology continuing education credits. Whether you need controlled substance CE credits or simply need to squeeze in a few credits prior to recertification, Medscape is an excellent resource.

5. AAPA Learning Central

The American Academy of Physician Assistants offers continuing education for NPs and PAs in the ‘Learning Central’ section of the website. While creating a login on the AAPA website is somewhat cumbersome, the continuing education course offerings may be worth the effort.

Does your state require continuing medical education related to the prescribing of controlled substances?


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