Limitations of the Current System
Healthcare credentialing exists to ensure a minimum standard for delivery of care in a profession and prove that clinicians remain up-to-date with industry best practices on an ongoing basis. For registered nurse anesthetists, this has translated into a combination of licensure upon entering the profession and a recertification process that emphasizes continuing education on a two-year cycle.
But research shows that this recertification system is not keeping pace with current knowledge and best practices related to credentialing. Specifically, the research shows that:
- Initial certification is just a start, because it only establishes baseline competency at a minimum level of performance.
- Knowledge at one point in time is not enough. Professional knowledge and skills, especially in anesthesia, require continuous updating and enhancement. That's why professional growth and development must become a lifelong and fully integrated learning process.
- Emphasis must be placed on continuing competency to make sure that practitioners have the knowledge, skills, and acuity to make the best decisions at any given point in time, which leads to better patient outcomes.
- Competency is fortified by evidence-based learning. Staying cognizant of proven strategies for anesthesia care and delivery translates into better performance - individually and as a profession.
The Shift to Continuing Competency
One of the big shifts in credentialing is a move to replace continuing education with continuing competency. What exactly does this mean?
Competency involves the mastery of skills and knowledge that allow us to do something successfully. It encompasses a continuous process of self-assessment education, improvement, and demonstration of abilities. The key difference is that competency emphasizes the ability to apply prior experience to new situations with expected outcomes. So it isn't just about acquired skills and knowledge. It's also about your ability to integrate all you've learned and make good decisions on a case-by-case basis related to anesthesia practice, pharmacology, and technology.
What distinguishes continuing competency?
- Its is progressive over time.
- It is focused on evolving knowledge, skills, and technologies.
- It is an ongoing system for continuous education, mastery, and assessment throughout your career.
- It allows the profession to respond quickly to changing trends in the healthcare landscape.
Continuing competency in credentialing isn't new. In fact, most physician specialties - including anesthesia - have made the shift to competency-based credentialing systems. So have many nursing organizations.