Professional competence: How do you weed the weeds?

We are making strides in promoting continuing competence and ongoing professional development in the occupational therapy profession but there is still work to be done. The current theme running through my head has to do with quacksalvers and quality in continuing education offerings.

As far as I can tell, there are few if any standards for the quality in continuing education courses as it relates to the CONTENT of the offering. I read the IACET standards and was disappointed that Standard 7 didn't really delve deeply into the issue of regulation of the QUALITY and CONTENT of continuing education courses. So if the primary standard-setter of quality in continuing education does not address quality of CONTENT, what should be done?

As an aside, I don't know that I blame IACET - how could they possibly address quality across so many diverse topic areas? Does this leave the professional associations to make statements about quality of content? Or is this left to certification bodies?

Here is what the physical therapy profession did. I especially like standard 5 which states "Each CE offering must be based on referenced scientific evidence, reflect evidence in practice and clearly label personal experience or hypotheses." I am still not sure if it makes much difference though: if we look at myofascial release as a case example I am not sure if many physical therapy course offerings in this area really meet standard 5. Even more frightening, check out what happens when you start to poke the tiger.

I did some cursory searching and couldn't find a similar OT document from AOTA that directly addresses the continuing education quality of content issue. The document may exist - I just couldn't find it. If anyone knows of any such document please let me know so I can include it here.

And if it does exist - does it matter? Any given professional association doesn't really have the resources or even teeth to address the issue. Would someone actually step forward and say that over two decades of continuing education on the Wilbarger DPPT without accompanying progress in researching the technique is ENOUGH ALREADY? Or will these types of little student projects that are done every year in EBP classes remain the hushed secret that all OT students know but are never admitted to by the people who continue to promote the madness?

A good colleague today suggested to me that perhaps all this is best left to the marketplace. I don't know. Maybe I just need to rub some lavender essential oils on my temples or something. I hear it works.

Comments

healthskills said…
Hi Chris
The problem with leaving it to the marketplace is that for how many years have the general public continued to believe in the best advertising - all the while being sold so-called treatments that simply do not work. Think of taking vitamin C 'to ward off colds', or magnets and copper bracelets for rheumatism.

There are so many reasons that an ineffective treatment can seem to 'work' that scientifically naive people can be easily misled.

Perhaps some of the fundamentals of evidence in health care need to be mandatory learning for all graduates as part of postgraduate education?
Chris said…
Of course healthskills is absolutely correct here. I was just despairing when I wrote this :)

While I am at it - I will mention that my comment about rubbing oils into my temples was tongue in cheek - lest anyone lose faith in me!

Thanks for visiting.
healthskills said…
Ahhhh, but lavendar oils have a wonderful scent!

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