Your Mission Statement: What Does Your Battle Cry Say About You and Your Organization?

By Shelly B. Rodrigues, CAE, MS, FACEHP, FAAMSE, Deputy Executive Vice President, California Academy of Family Physicians

If your continuing medical education (CME) program is like our program — committed to bringing valuable, high-quality, relevant and practical education to your learners as a means of improving practice and patient care — then, like us, you look at your CME mission statement as your battle cry. 

I had the distinct pleasure of talking about mission statements at the Southern California Medical Education (SCMEC) conference in October 2019, and I learned those in attendance have regularly reviewed and adapted (and had their committees and boards approve/adopt) their mission statements. And, many are testing these battle cries to see if they still ring true to their learners.

The SCMEC attendees emphasized three topics of interest regarding mission statements:

  1. The change in the ACCME requirements
  2. The definitions in Criterion #1 and #12
  3. The implementation of Joint Accreditation2 

These three topics, and especially the Joint Accreditation opportunity, means many of us are now taking a new look at our statements to determine how best to serve a wider range of learners, with different levels of education and licensure, and a wide array of entry points in healthcare delivery and patient engagement.  

Changes to the ACCME Requirements

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) requires accredited organizations to have a CME Mission Statement1 that articulates the expected results of their program in terms of change, improvement and outcomes.  ACCME expects us to describe what kind of impact we want to our educational program to have on learners and patients.  These can be changes in the strategies that inform practice, improving what learners do in practice, and even changing care and outcomes for patients. 

Many of us recall the format for mission statements of the past: the color-coded statement that outlined scope, characteristics of potential participation, types of activities and services, responsibility and direction, and expected outcomes and program evaluation.  If you’ve been in this profession for more than a decade, your self-study packets would have included this.  But now the ACCME no longer requires these components be addressed in your mission statement.

Expectations for Your Mission

Criterion #1 requires that, “The provider has a CME mission statement that includes expected results articulated in terms of changes in competence, performance, or patient outcomes that will be the result of the program.”  ACCME asks the accredited provider to craft a CME mission statement that will serve as a roadmap for what it seeks to achieve through its accredited CME program.  ACCME says the provider is free to include any parameters that are relevant to its program, learners, setting and goals, but must at least include what it seeks to change in terms of learners’ competence, performance and/or patient outcomes. 

Criterion #12 is the second ACCME component for the mission statement.  It states, “The provider gathers data or information and conducts a program-based analysis on the degree to which the CME mission of the provider has been met through the conduct of CME activities/educational interventions.”  This supports Criterion #1’s call for change and improvement.  

Joint Accreditation

Launched in 2009, Joint Accreditation is a collaboration of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing EducationTM offers organizations the opportunity to be simultaneously accredited to provide medical, nursing, pharmacy and optometry continuing education activities through a single, unified application process, fee structure and set of accreditation standards.

In response to these three important elements, how do we go forward with our mission statement review, and in many cases, mission rewrite?

Let me use our organization as an example. CAFP submitted its November 2019 cohort self-study that included the much reviewed-adapted-approved two-page tome as our Criterion #1 statement. However, this past summer, our Committee on Continuing Professional Development, engaging in strategic planning for 2020-2021, determined it was time to make significant changes to our mission statement … not the battle cry tenets but the statement itself. 

We prepared for the meeting and work by reading several books on mission statements, reviewing articles on mission-vision-value and looking at the statements of organizations we believe to be thought leaders in this endeavor. We adapted a process outlined in Michael Wilkinson’s “The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy.”3 Wilkinson’s strategies for mission statement development are simple: Your mission should say what you do, for whom and to/for what benefit.  

We also referred to the ACCME’s samples of compliance and non-compliance4 to guide us, for example:

  • This statement is complaint with C1: In fulfillment of our CME mission, we strive to educate physicians and other members of the care team on valid and independent content that is relevant to their practice and that contributes to improvements to their strategies, skills, performance and coordination as healthcare teams.
  • This one, however, is not: Our CME mission is focused on offering education that increases the knowledge base of our members. We offer online and live activities. 

With the three questions in mind, we began a series of exercises targeting our what, whom and benefit.  We walked and talked, answering each question one at a time.  Pages of flip chart paper were filled, and a modified Delphi5 process was used to narrow the answers, producing a series of statements that were eventually crafted into one clear mission statement. 


We adopted the statement and then presented it to our Board of Directors for approval.  Our new battle cry is “CAFP’s CME+CPD program ensures continuous improvement of patient health care and health outcomes (for what benefit) by providing high quality, evidence-based, relevant education (what we do) that increases the competence and performance of family physicians and their care teams (for whom).” 

One of our Committee on Continuing Professional Development members shouted approval at the change. For years, another member has always said in committee meetings, “Our mission is to provide totally cool, squeaky clean CME that makes a difference to our learners and their patients.” Although we don’t submit that version to the ACCME/Joint Accreditation, it’s helpful to have a re-vamped mission statement that resonates with the way our members already think!


ACCME says individual providers can decide how to word their CME mission statements. Use the ACCME language, copy Toyota or Apple, or come up with your own battle cry.  Accredited providers like those I sat with at the SCMEC meeting, report that their mission statements guide their committees, outline their work and support their roles in their organizations. The statements help them advocate for their overall programs and assist in leading the endeavor to change performance and improve care. 

At CAFP, we look at our mission statement as the clinical and practice support goal for our Academy’s overall strategic plan. It guides all our work from advocacy to communication, education to membership — and as we look at Criterion #12, it is an example of the performance improvement strategies we teach our learners. Using the Deming “Plan-Do-Study-Act”6 concepts, we can look at each activity and our overall program by asking, “What do we do, for whom and to what benefit?”  

What’s your battle cry? 


  4. The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy, Michael Wilkinson, copyright 2011, Leadership Strategies Publishing


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