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Acad Med. 2012 May;87(5):582-5. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31824d4d5f.

Perspective: a practical approach to defining professional practice gaps for continuing medical education.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.


The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education mandates that continuing medical education (CME) be developed around professional practice gaps. Accordingly, CME course directors must identify the intended learners, assess learners' needs, identify gaps in knowledge, and evaluate their CME activities. Writing gap statements is challenging for CME course directors because there is not a universally accepted format for writing these statements. The authors describe a practical approach to defining gaps for CME accreditation, which involves four steps indicated by the mnemonic LASO (learner, assessment, standard, outcomes): (1) define the learner population's characteristics, (2) create a learning needs assessment, (3) determine if the standard is met, and (4) state educational outcome for the CME activity. Based on this model, the difference between the practice standard and the current practice represents the gap in practice. The LASO approach has assisted in making CME content learner centered, relevant, and measurable at the authors' institution. The authors anticipate that LASO will be able to provide all CME course directors with a practical approach to defining educational gaps for CME accreditation.

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