ACC Publishes Lifelong Learning Competencies For General Cardiologists

The ACC has published new lifelong learning competencies for general cardiologists, defining the knowledge, skills and behaviors expected throughout the span of their careers, while also identifying certain aspects of cardiovascular medicine that exceed core expectations. The document, published Feb. 19 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, aims to ensure the highest levels of quality and service for patients, and complements the Core Cardiology Training Statement (COCATS 4), released in March 2015. Together the documents cover the spectrum of a practicing cardiologist from training through their career.

The competencies are organized using the six competency domains developed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and American Board of Medical Specialties, and endorsed by the American Board of Internal Medicine. These include medical knowledge, patient care and procedural skill, systems-based practice, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, and professionalism. The document also includes leadership and administrative competencies such as organizational skills, professional identity, interaction with governmental and health care systems, and personal balance. A key feature is adherence to appropriate use and guideline-driven criteria for patient care and resource utilization.

Assessment tools are available for physicians to expand lifelong learning and maintain competency, as well as to assess their professional needs for education and performance improvement. The tools include certified continuing medical education activities relevant to an individual’s practice, review of practice or hospital data, performance assessment and improvement programs, and facilitated self-reflection. For procedural or diagnostic laboratory activities, assessment tools may include registry or hospital data, appropriate use criteria and metrics developed by national organizations.

“These lifelong learning competencies serve as the underpinning of all ACC education activities and are a mechanism for needs assessment and personalized or focused education for physicians,” says Eric S. Williams, MD, MACC, chair of the writing committee.

In a recent article in Cardiology magazine, Williams and Jonathan L. Halperin, MD, FACC, note that “what makes this document truly unique is that it attempts to define those competencies that every cardiologist should maintain no matter what their career focus, while identifying those skills or activities that reflect a more specific practice focus.”   


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