What are the new CME requirements for Illinois physicians?

All Illinois licensed professionals who are subject to continuing education requirements, including physicians, must now complete 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training in order to renew their licenses.

Additionally, every prescriber who is licensed to prescribe controlled substances must complete 3 hours of education on safe opioid prescribing practices.

These hours are part of the 150 hours of Continuing Medical Education that must be completed by physicians to renew their licenses every three years.


When do these requirements go into effect?

These requirements are in effect for the current physician licensure cycle. Before the license renewal deadline of July 31, 2020, every Illinois physician will need to complete 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training, and every controlled substance license holder will need to complete 3 hours of education on safe opioid prescribing.


What if I completed training on these topics before the new laws went into effect?

It is our understanding that education completed any time during the current licensure cycle – between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2020 – may be counted toward the requirement as long as the specific courses completed meet the requirements of the law. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the final arbiter as to what satisfies the requirements.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois has extended licensure renewal through September 30. The deadline for completing CME coursework has also been extended.


Are these one-time requirements, or will I need to take similar courses again in the future?

Unless the law is changed, these requirements will be in effect for each three-year licensure cycle.


Are allied health professionals, such as Physician Assistants, required to complete safe opioid prescribing and/or sexual harassment prevention training?

Safe Opioid Prescribing Training
The 3-hour education requirement for safe prescribing of opioids is applicable to all licensed health care professionals who also possess an Illinois Controlled Substance License.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
The 1-hour sexual harassment prevention education mandate applies to any profession licensed by the state that requires continuing education as a condition of re-licensure.


I have completed a CME course on opioid prescribing in another state during the current licensing cycle. Will that satisfy the Illinois requirement?

ISMS fought to ensure that opioids-related CME accumulated for other purposes (e.g., another state's licensure requirement, MOC, or hospital credentialing) will count toward the new requirement in Illinois.

Note that when you go to renew your medical license in the summer of 2020, you will have to attest to THREE hours of CME specific to safe opioid prescribing. If the other course is less than three hours, you will need to complete additional coursework to fulfill the 3-hour requirement. ISMS offers several opioid-related CME courses, free of charge to ISMS members.


How can I access information from IDFPR about these requirements?

The IDFPR recently published rules related to mandatory sexual harassment prevention training. Click here to view the law.

IDFPR has indicated that they will not be issuing rules on the safe opioid prescribing CME mandate.

Beginning in 2020, physicians must also complete three (3) 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 the purposes of board certification application or renewal, count towards this new requirement.

Please note that ISMS offers both sexual harassment prevention and safe opioid prescribing CME that meets the state’s new requirements – all free to ISMS members which can be accessed in the courses section of this site.


Where did these mandates come from?

About the sexual harassment prevention training requirement

The sexual harassment prevention training requirement was born out of the #MeToo movement that exploded in late 2017/early 2018 and then swept through the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield.  Legislators, in seeking to address that wave, quickly passed a law requiring all state officials and any licensed professional who requires continuing education as a provision for license renewal to complete one hour of continuing education on this subject.

About the opioids CME requirement

The opioid crisis gained significant public attention throughout the mid-2010s, and by 2018 the General Assembly was determined to do something about it. In addition to a proposed requirement of 10 hours of very specific CME content related to opioids, there was active discussion of arbitrary pill limits, mandatory adherence to practice guidelines, and other onerous provisions of dubious effectiveness. Ultimately, ISMS was able to reduce the burden on physicians by negotiating to modify the original bill to require only three hours of CME specific to safe opioid prescribing.