Alinity logo

Avoid Continuing Competency Drift at Your Association

Continuing Competency is Important

Professionals in a regulated industry must continually learn in order to keep their knowledge and methods up to date to provide the best care and service to clients. Anything medical, health care, educational, legal, etc. has useful information constantly being added, including new methods and practice guidelines. For doctors, it’s new information on treatments and procedures; for teachers it’s new material to add to their curriculum or teaching methodologies; for lawyers it’s new laws and precedent setting decisions, etc. The majority of regulated professions require a certain number of hours of continuing education.

Regular People Now Know More

With the Internet being updated every second, and the easy accessibility to research by regular people, professionals need to make sure they stay on top of the newest and most relevant info. Professionals don’t want to know less than their clients. This could lead to distrust, less value in the opinion from a professional and fewer visits from clients. Patients learning about new treatments, sometimes even before medical professionals, are seeking these alternatives rather than what would be prescribed to them originally. In the internet age, professionals also need to be educated against the prolific spread of misinformation readily available online.

Purpose of a Regulatory Body

A regulatory body enforces competency in order to protect the public, provide transparency for registrants and create a more consistent level of service across all professionals. People that are at a higher risk of competency drift are older (around 55+ years old or have been out of school for over 25 years) and professionals who own their own practice.

In the United States, an online survey was sent out to hundreds of licensed civil engineers asking how they felt about states needing Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE); the majority of people from a state where MCE was required to be licensed viewed MCE positively. So why are people drifting if they think continuing education is a good thing?

Competency Assessment

Regulatory bodies enforce competence through a variety of methods including exams and audits in order for professionals to stay licensed and able to practice. With majority of assessments being done online, how do regulatory bodies ensure registrants aren’t just putting in the minimum requirements?

Colleges can use several assessment types to help members measure themselves to ensure that they are focusing on the right competence areas in their self-improvement. One is the self-assessment tool. This is when the member evaluates his or herself regarding strengths, weaknesses, experience, knowledge on code of ethics, laws and regulations in order to identify their learning goals. There are no right or wrong answers in a self-assessment; the purpose is for members to be aware of where they are in comparison to where they want to be.  The results of the assessments then are available to members all year round.

Another assessment is a regular jurisprudence exam. A jurisprudence exam ensures members have the required knowledge to practice their profession within the industry’s provincial and federal laws. It is usually mandatory to pass this exam in order to be licensed.

How is a lack of competency found?

Unless the member is announcing to the world that he or she has not been continuing in their education and updating their competence, gaps in competence can often be identified through regular competency audits. The worst way to find out about continuing education gaps is through complaints from the public or employers.

If your registrants are entering their continuing education credits online, then auditing their competency should be relatively painless. Association management software solutions should allow you to generate an audit sample of your members using business rules (e.g. a certain percentage of members, members who have not been audited in the last 3 years, and so forth) and allow you to audit their competence claims.

In an upcoming series of blog posts, we will talk about different audit types and how they work for regulatory bodies.

Why are professionals not being competent?

Since it is mandatory to continue competence learning, members will attend lectures, take online courses, read material and take quizzes or exams. Basically they learn the material, fill out the blanks, check in the multiple choice boxes and click submit. It is not that professionals are not passionate enough about their careers or are not wanting to better themselves, but everybody is different; one person might prefer to take an online course while another might totally dislike it. It’s not realistic to make all registrants learn the same way.

Professionals, in another point, are people too. Some could have negative events happening in their personal lives and it spills into their work life. This could be why someone would pass an exam, but not remember anything they studied the day after.

How can your college help?

How can apathetic registrants become more enthusiastic and take more initiative to continue competency? Regulatory bodies, colleges, and associations need to find more ways for their members to be motivated to keep their education up to date. Many sources say engagement with colleagues and professionals in the same position would increase their interest in being competent. This is because interacting, engaging, networking and generally continuing education using a more active approach feels less like a chore and more like learning. Professionals can gather with each other and bounce ideas around, discuss new discoveries, ask each other questions and get a more thorough understanding of what’s new in their professional world.

Alinity’s Role

With Alinity’s focus on regulatory bodies, we understand the importance of continuing competence and try to make the process of evaluation of competence easier for both the college and their members. With our cloud-based solution, members can fill out some portions of their continuing competence assessments on the go (self-assessment tool), as well as check the status of their jurisprudence exam and other continuing competence documents.

If you’d like to make the process of comparing association management software easier, please download our software procurement checklist below! It can be used on any Association Management System (AMS) or license management software. Have a great day!