Mandatory continuing medical education, because of the need to validate participation, rewards classroom activities but not self-education. To determine if self-education is still a major study method for practicing physicians, we surveyed 158 cardiologists to learn how they first heard of, and continued their education in, echocardiography, a technique in which 81% of the physician-sample received no training in medical school, residency, or fellowship. Initial and continuing sources of information included professional journals and literature, meetings and conferences, discussion with colleagues, and courses. Professional journals ranked first in use; individual and group learning activities were used about equally by physicians. Recent legislation requiring validation of attendance may cause educators and legislators to ignore the self-learner. This study should remind educators and legislators that variations in learning style must be considered when planning and legislating approaches in continuing medical education.