Medical Licensure and CME Information

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ISMS staff answer hundreds of questions annually about medical licensure/relicensure requirements in Illinois, particularly concerning CME credits. At the present time physicians need to earn 150 hours of CME credit in the three-year relicensure period, with a minimum of 40 percent (at least 60 hours) of those hours earned in formal educational programs and a maximum of 60 percent (no more than 90 hours) of those hours earned in a combination of formal and informal education.

The information below provides physicians with licensing requirements, guidelines, and interpretations addressing continuing medical education in Illinois. For specific information on licensure, contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) at 800-560-6420 or visit the IDFPR Web site at  

State of Illinois Continuing Medical Education Requirements for Physician License Renewal


Physicians should maintain records of their continuing medical education (CME) activities, but are not required to submit documentation to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation with their renewal applications. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation may conduct an audit and randomly select physicians to forward evidence of CME credits. Therefore, it is important to keep adequate records of all CME credits earned within the renewal cycle. Maintain a list of Category 1 (formal) CME programs and include the name of the sponsor of the activity, title, date(s) of attendance, and number of credit hours earned. Make sure you have certificates verifying credits earned. Also, record all Category 2 (informal) CME activities. Be sure to list the approximate number of hours spent on each type of CME activity. Maintain CME records for at least one full license cycle (3) years after the cycle in which credits were earned. 

CME Reporting Cycle

To renew a medical license, physicians must attest to compliance with state CME requirements. Licensees are required by law to renew their licenses every three years. Next renewal is September 30, 2020. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation automatically will forward a notice regarding renewal to each physician prior to the license expiration. The Department will conduct random audits of physicians for compliance with the CME requirements.

CME Requirements

For the September 30, 2020, renewal, a licensee will be required to complete 150 hours of continuing medical education (CME). The Department will accept CME taken on or after August 1, 2017.

A renewal applicant shall not be required to comply with the CME requirements for the first renewal of an Illinois license. 

Credits shall be earned as follows:

  • A minimum of 40% (60 hours) of the required CME hours shall be obtained in formal CME programs. (The entire 150 hour requirement may be completed in Category 1). 
  • A maximum of 60% (90 hours) of the required CME hours may be obtained in informal CME programs or activities.

New Requirements for 2020

As part of their CME requirement, controlled substance license holders must also complete three CME hours on safe opioid prescribing practices offered or accredited by a professional association, state government agency, or federal agency.  CME taken by physicians as a requirement for licensure in another state, or for purposes of board certification application or renewal, count towards this new requirement.

Additionally, every licensed professional in Illinois (required to complete continuing education), including physicians, is required to complete one hour of continuing education specific sexual harassment prevention.

Both of the special requirements noted above count toward the 150 hours required for renewal.

Waiver of CME Requirements
In the event that a physician is unable to complete the CME requirements by date of the license renewal, a CME Waiver Request Form must be completed and submitted prior to the renewal date. Contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for specific details and the CME Waiver Request Form.

Category 1 Determination

CME activities are designated as Category 1 by an accredited sponsor or joint sponsor. Category 1 activities can take the form of lectures, seminars, use of self-study materials, self-assessment programs, and use of audio-visual or computer based materials.

Only an institution or organization accredited for continuing medical education can designate a CME activity as earning Category 1 credit. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) is responsible for CME accreditation of medical schools, state medical societies, and other institutions and organizations which provide CME activities for a national or regional audience. State medical societies accredit institutions and organizations that provide CME activities primarily for physicians within the state or bordering states. CME credit and accreditation information must be prominently printed on all promotional literature. 

Category 2 Determination

These are educationally beneficial activities in which a physician may participate. Physicians self-designated Category 2 credits. Category 2 study includes any of the following:

  • Medical Teaching - Credit hours may be claimed for contact hours of teaching health professionals, including medical students, residents, practicing physicians, and allied health professionals. You should list the type of education, subject, institution, address, and inclusive dates. 
  • Articles, publications, books and exhibits - Ten hours of credit may be claimed only once for the medical or educational content of a publication or exhibit regardless of whether it is reissued or changed in format.
  • Use of self-instructive materials, such as audiovisual materials, teleconferences, programmed medical education materials, and computer assisted instruction. 
  • Clinical consultations that contribute to a physician's education. (Involvement in informal educational consultations about a patient should be estimated and reported in hour blocks.) Important: Ordinary case consultation should not be reported. 
  • Discussion with colleagues about patient care and patient centered discussions with colleagues. 
  • Participation in patient care review activities such as peer review, case conference, chart audit, service on hospital medical staff committees for tissue review, infections, death conference, pharmacy, etc. 
  • Journal club activities. 

For More Information Contact:

Illinois State Medical Society
Department of Education and Licensure
20 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60602
312-782-1654 ext. 4746
800-782-4767 ext. 4746

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
320 West Washington, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

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