SRNA competence assurance update

SRNA competence assurance update

Braithwaite, Jo-Anne

The SRNA’s Competence Assurance Committee continues to research continuing competence initiatives of nursing and other regulated professions both nationally and internationally. In November, 1998, Joyce Butler and I attended the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) Conference in Miami, Florida.

NOCA is a membership organization open to a variety of organizations that are interested in competency assurance issues. The majority of its members are professional certification agencies covering a wide range of professions, disciplines and occupations. Several national associations and numerous service providers are also members of NOCA. There were close to 300 participants at the conference from almost every walk of life -health professionals (RNs, especially specialty groups from the U.S. who have become certified; occupational and physiotherapists; physicians; operating room technicians; social workers; radiology technicians and more); service providers such as landscapers, refrigeration companies, dental and medical suppliers, plastics, retailers, bakers’ associations and attorneys at law.

The theme of the conference was “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” We were taken back to carbon copies and gestetner-copied exams, to the presentday type of examinations, to the future where we will be able to access exams on the internet and be security screened by a laser beam access code through our retinas.

I came home with a clear understanding that nursing is one of many professions that is very concerned about continuing competence. Assuring the public and the nursing membership of continuing competence of health care professionals is not a new concern. Health care reform and changing public expectations have stimulated interest in the concept. Recent national reports on health care workforce regulation and human resources development in both Canada and the U.S. have put forth recommendations calling for regulatory bodies to develop and implement mechanisms to assure the continuing competence of regulated health care professionals. We were reassured that the SRNA is on the right track.

On the international front, it is evident that many organizations and services are becoming accredited and certified for many reasons: competition, accountability, flexibility, mobility and sheer existence. Nursing specialties in the United States have been working very hard to become certified nationally. In so doing, they are looking internationally at other health care organizations and have become interested in the Ontario Nursing Competence Assurance Program.

The American Credentialing Center is in the process of developing a continuing competency program. This group involves more than 150,000 nurses. When this group was determining its stakeholders, it included two Canadian nursing representatives from Ontario and the CNA. In assessing continued competency, it looked at entrance exams but realized this tested only initial competency, not continued competency. It is now looking at continuing education, practice, self assessment portfolios, clinical patient documentation, case studies and standardized patients (live or simulated) which the Board of Medical Examiners have incorporated in their program.

Factors to consider when selecting methodologies include cost, security, accessibility, user-friendliness, integrity/ accuracy of case studies used and resource intensity for creating and scoring. Many of these concerns were brought forward by Saskatchewan registered nurses when the SRNA Competence Assurance Committee held its consultation sessions around the province last fall.

Conference speakers emphasized that as society becomes more participatory in health reform, the public will demand even more stringent measures of continuing competence assurance for all health care providers. Society is asking for quality and competence. Continuing competence assurance will become a fundamentally important service. Health care professionals must look at their values and incorporate them into their visions. The SRNACouncil has spent many hours at their strategic planning sessions doing this.

As registered nurses, we need to know our own vision and how to expand the value we provide. We need to value ourselves and promote what we do. Our roles will change as health care needs of the consumer change with the environment. The SRNA and NOCA are helping its members anticipate, vision and participate in the future.

Attending this conference reaffirmed that competence assurance will be a fundamental expectation of society in the future, not only for consumers of material goods, but for health care. The SRNA has become an active participant and will continue to promote competent, caring nursing for the people of Saskatchewan in a manner acceptable to society and the registered nurses of the province.

By Jo-Anne Braithwaite, RN Chair, Competence Assurance Committee

Copyright Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association Jun 1999

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