Education - Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your questions about education, programs and certifications.

If you’re looking for guidance on our educational programs and courses, you’re in the right place. Click on a tab below to browse through the answers.

  • What is a CPE?

    A Certified Physician Executive is a licensed MD or DO with one year of management experience, 150 hours of tested management education or a management degree and is board certified in a clinical specialty with three years’ experience after residency and fellowship. CPE candidates must pass the three-and-a-half-day Certifying Commission in Medical Management Certification Program.

  • Why should I seek a CPE?

    CPE after your name designates a standard of commitment to quality, communication and excellence in health care. You’ll feel the personal satisfaction of achieving an exclusive pinnacle of professional distinction. And you’ll bring a top skill set to your health care organization.

  • What do I have to do to gain CPE status?

    The credential is awarded by the CCMM based on the candidate’s stature as a physician, educational attainment and medical management experience and completion of the three-and-a-half-day skill-building certification program.

  • What do I need to do to apply?

    Applications are only accepted through the CCMM website. You’ll need to collect electronic versions of your diplomas, transcripts, resume and other documentation. A $150 application fee is required and $3,000 in tuition is due upon approval of your application.

  • Where can I learn more?

    Go to the Certifying Commission in Medical Management’s website, ccmm.org. Call (800) 562-8088 toll free within the United States or (813) 287-2000 outside the United States. You can also email ccmm@physicianleaders.org.

  • What is the association’s master's program?

    The association’s program is a flexible, proven answer to your goal of an advanced degree. The program has two parts: 125 contact hours (about six to eight classes) of prerequisites followed by university curriculum. You choose the program with the focus and the setup that works for you. Programs include the Master of Medical Management (MMM) offered by Carnegie Mellon University or the University of Southern California, the online part-time MBA with a concentration in medical management offered by University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety Management (MS-HQSM) offered by Thomas Jefferson University and the Master of Science in the Science of Health Care Delivery (MS-SHCD) offered by Arizona State University.

  • When and where do you have the program’s courses?

    The association’s prerequisites are offered three ways: live, facilitated and self-study. You choose which method works best for you. We’ll even come to you, if your organization chooses to book a seminar. Live sessions are conducted at conferences around the country four times a year. Facilitated classes combine interactive elements with self-study during a 4- to 6-week session. Self-study is on your own, whenever you choose.

  • How long does it take to complete the program?

    Both sections can be completed in as few as two years or spread out up to 10 years. It’s totally up to you. To ensure content isn’t outdated, however, you must complete the prerequisites within five years. In the university part of the program, it will take a year to 18 months for the MMM, about 2½ years for the part-time online MBA (minimum 22 months, maximum four years), and about 16 to 18 months for the MS-HQSM (if you take two classes per term). The MS-SHCD is expected to take about one academic year, devoting 10-15 hours per week.

  • What are the program requirements?

    The master's program is for MDs and DOs and does not require a GMAT. No application or enrollment is necessary to start taking the prerequisites and they are offered year round. Membership in the association isn't required, either, but big discounts on the prerequisite classes and other benefits make joining a great idea. Ready?


  • How do I start?

    Start by using the course selection tool to help pick your first course. Many physicians start with the Physician in Management Seminar series, but that’s not required.

  • Can I get credit for other management courses I’ve taken?

    Content depth and breadth must be similar to our curriculum. Graduate-level coursework from other universities and executive training programs taken and graded within the last 10 years may be eligible for transfer. Acceptance is pending review of the content and candidate transcript. Transfer credit for the university part of the program is generally not available. To learn more, contact us at education@physicianleaders.org.

  • What is the difference among the degrees offered?

    The five master’s program options differ in content, format, cost and credentials. In most cases, it matters less which degree you get than what you do with it afterward. The training and credential will help you in the marketplace. Program alumni are a great resource to find out more. And we’re here to help, too.


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  • If I took courses a few years ago, can I still take the tests and get credit?

    There’s a five-year expiration on courses, regardless of whether you took the test. Any course taken five or more years ago cannot count for credit and will not show up on the association’s prerequisite transcripts. You have to retake the course. This helps you, too, to assure you have the latest information when you transfer to the second half of the master’s program. We encourage participants to take the tests soon after completing the course, even if you’re not sure you can complete the program. It keeps your options open and you avoid having to catch up on areas you’ve already done. Remember, testing costs nothing.

  • What about CPE?

    The Certified Physician Executive designation can open doors to advance your career and enhance your credibility. If you add 25 specific hours to your prerequisite curriculum, you will meet the requirements to apply for the CPE. To become a CPE, you must be accepted into the Certifying Commission in Medical Management’s CPE Certification Program. This is a 3 1/2 day skill development and assessment session that ends with an oral presentation to a panel of health care leaders.

  • What kinds of positions will this degree help me get?

    The top-five categories of job titles of our current advanced degree holders are medical director, department chief or chair, department or program director, president, vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer. That said, you need to know your advanced degree will equip you with knowledge and skills but it won’t guarantee you a job in management. You’ll still need to get experience and build credibility for yourself. We’re here to help, though.


  • How do I get management experience while I’m getting my degree?

    Physician leaders who have succeeded offer this advice:
    View chaos as a chance to step up and prove yourself. Offer to assume more responsibility in hard times, whether it’s a merger or new technology rollout or a change in leadership. Take on unpaid leadership challenges to advance to paid management roles. Serve on task forces, committees and ad hoc initiatives. Participate enthusiastically and be vocal about your willingness to lead and serve in these roles. Consistently attend and actively participate in meetings, even those others view negatively. Be open and vocal about your interest in positions such as department chair, chief of service, etc. Volunteer to take on tasks others avoid, including conflict resolution, scheduling, finances or compliance. Look for ways to improve systems or start a team to collaborate on new methods. Report on the financial and quality outcomes. Seek ways to be involved in building projects and expanded lines of service. Seek out and get involved with new initiatives. Let others see you manage people, information and finances. Be visible, energetic and efficient. People will notice and think of you when management tasks need to be done.

  • After spending so much time and money already in post-graduate education, will I regret the decision to go back to school for more?

    It’s a big decision, no doubt. But 97 percent of graduate degree alumni survey respondents said they’d recommend the association’s leadership education to their colleagues.

  • Are there specific courses I should take for the certificate?

    Yes. Four required core courses are Project Management, Physician in Management-Leadership, Core Concepts in HIT and Improving Communication and Feedback in Health Care Leadership. Physicians who have taken these courses can apply them to the certificate requirements.

  • What about electives?

    The certificate requires 22 hours of electives. There are new and updated options, so you can be sure you’re not learning outdated skills. You can tailor your elective choices to your organization’s most pressing needs.

  • Are classes available online?

    Yes. All the coursework is available as self-study classes.

  • How has the capstone changed?

    After you finish 40 hours of required coursework, the last step needed to earn your certificate is the capstone forum and leadership project.

    An online education session and discussion forum will give candidates for the certificate not only the chance to analyze and solve real problems, but also earn CME and network with peers.

    Then, via webinar, you submit and present a health care IT project for which you have a leadership role. Presentations must describe how you showed and applied leadership principles in addressing challenges and opportunities. The project must be ongoing or have been executed in the last 24 months.

    Successful candidates will be awarded the HIT Certificate.

  • What is "Meta Leadership"?

    A practice set that lets physician leaders identify what they need to pay attention to: emotional intelligence, understanding situations and connecting effort in all directions.

  • This is a relatively new program. Why was it created?

    Clinical training doesn't address leadership skills. This curriculum focuses both the practical side of the issues physician leaders face today and the academic side of breakthroughs in negotiation and conflict resolution.

  • Why should I seek this certificate?

    This certificate gives physician leaders an integrated way to learn the skills and background needed to be a Meta Leader. When you’re done, you’ll be able to apply the skills to manage confidently within your organization.

  • Who is responsible for the curriculum?

    The program was developed by Leonard J. Marcus, PhD, and Barry C. Dorn, MD, MHCM. They are founding co-directors of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a joint venture of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. Dorn’s background includes orthopedic practice and training as well as hospital administration. He is a leader in the negotiation and conflict resolution field. Marcus pioneered the meta-leadership concept and has directed numerous projects to advance negotiation and collaborative problem-solving.

  • Is there a project once the coursework has been completed?

    Yes. Students are required to complete a project to demonstrate their leadership abilities that will be presented at a final, live capstone course. More information regarding the project and date of capstone is coming soon.

If you are interested in our education programs, or would like to schedule a 15 minute advising session, we are available to help.

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Up to 15% off education courses for CME

Free subscription to Physician Leadership Journal

Members-only webinars

Discounts on books 

Unlimited access to our physician-focused CareerLink
job board 

Daily Digest email subscription 

Discounts on career services 

Connections to an extensive network of physician leaders in more than 46 countries 

Access to mentoring program

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