Charting a New Course

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta Messenger, Trevor's Take On Leave a Comment

I penned this column a couple of days after Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democrats to a stunning majority electoral victory. Recognizing that new leadership provides us with new opportunity, the College’s work carries on despite the seismic activity around us, and that is especially true in the work overseen by our Competence Committee.

The Competence Committee, chaired by Dr. Ann Crabtree, a senior member of Council, has charted a new course for our competence work, the various programs that attempt to ensure physicians remain competent throughout their careers. In part, that new course means integrating our various programs – our office Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) program, PAR (the Physician Achievement Review), Physician Prescribing Practices, physician peer review, and mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – to provide a more holistic view of medical practice. In part, our goal is to improve the feedback we provide to our members, to make it more informative and to be more useful in identifying learning opportunities. Unlike many American “maintenance of competence programs”, our focus is on performance in practice. We have no intention of requiring tests of medical knowledge at specified intervals, for example; rather, we believe the work we do and the feedback we provide needs to be specific to the individual practitioner and relevant to what s/he does in practice.

In addition, we are working with our sister Colleges to identify risk factors, including those that may be predictive of unsafe practice and those that may be predictive of high quality practice, much like we currently do with prescribing information from the Triplicate Prescription Program.

And third, we want to build in a process to ensure that members are knowledgeable about the College’s Standards of Practice and have implemented the standards (those that are relevant) into their practices.

What won’t change is that like PAR, all CPSA competence activities will remain confidential and cannot be shared outside the competence department of the College unless patients are believed to be at risk and the physician is unwilling to address the identified issues.

Doing all of this is a big job. It’s going to take a couple of years, and it’s going to need your help and input.

We’ve hired people like Ernie Schuster to help us with this work, to reach out to physicians, explain what we’re trying to achieve, understand the needs of our members, identify the work many are currently doing to measure and improve processes and practice, and help us design our program so that it will be relevant and useful.

Over the next while, the work of the Competence Committee and our Continuing Competence Program will be a regular part of my messages. We want to hear from you, our members, about what we currently provide – like PAR and CPD and IPAC – and about what might be helpful for you in practice. You can call, write or email. Let the dialogue begin!

As always, I welcome your feedback below or by email.

Trevor Theman