Continuing medical education (CME) for many hand surgeons has traditionally involved traveling to an annual conference out of state. Such meetings provide a change of pace and an opportunity to network in person with colleagues from afar.  However, it is an increasingly expensive and intrusive method for fulfilling CME credits, and it is certainly possible to receive credits without receiving much education.  Online continuing medical education has the advantages of convenience and also a greater likelihood that the intended educational process will actually occur. Lectures and materials presented at large conferences can be made available for viewing at home or in the office, at the time, convenience and safety of the surgeon.

Current Reality
CME programs are being developed across all medical specialties, including hand surgery.  Such programs are still in their infancy, and it is not likely that they will soon replace annual meetings.  One of the problems of distance education is loss of the opportunity to meet up with other surgeons in person.  For some, this is too high a price to pay, but at the very least, online continuing medical education programs provide an excellent avenue for those who cannot attend a meeting every year, or miss a meeting due to unforeseen difficulties. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand is developing courses which will archive live meetings in an online format (6).