CLEAR News - Summer 2004

Citizen Advocacy Center Road Map to Continuing Competency Assurance

The Citizen Advocacy Center, an organization devoted to providing resources and information to public members of health care regulatory boards and governing bodies, has recently released "Maintaining and Improving Health Professional Competence: The Citizen Advocacy Center Road Map to Continuing Competency Assurance." 

The report points out that "America's health care system is in crisis," citing studies that document an increasing number of preventable medical errors and serious problems in quality of care.  The CAC offers a road map leading toward a national program for assessing and assuring continuing competence for all health care professionals.  The main principle underlying CAC's vision is that "valid, reliable continuing competency assessment and assurance requirements mandated by regulatory boards (acting alone or in concert with other public or private entities) can change practitioner performance for the better and result in safer and higher quality health care for the public."

As step one in the road map the CAC calls for ongoing research to test, validate, and compare competency assessment and assurance methods and their impact on patient outcomes.  They then propose that legislation be sought to require practitioners to periodically demonstrate their competence and for licensing boards to launch pilot programs.  The results of these pilot programs would be analyzed and regulations would be implemented to set standards for acceptable methodologies.  The CAC charges educational programs with conveying the message to students that demonstration of continuing competence is part of a health professional's career.  The road map also calls for a reform of continuing education programs, eventually requiring that all CE courses be evidence-based and test the student's mastery of the material.

The Citizen Advocacy Center plans to "jump start" the process by calling a meeting of leaders from the various stakeholder groups to agree on a national definition of competence, pull together existing evidence and develop a plan for future research, sketch out parameters for pilot projects, develop a plan for funding, and appoint appropriate task forces.

For more information on the Citizen Advocacy Center, please visit their website.  The full text of the "Road Map to Continuing Competency Assurance" can be found online as well.