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Healthcare Staff Competency Challenges and How to Solve Them

The Joint Commission has defined some duties that may present unique challenges for healthcare organizations in the area of competency. They are:

Mandated Duties

These may be duties that are frequently or infrequently performed for which the organization or an external, regulatory agency requires competency assessment.

New or Changing Duties

New duties are those that are being performed for the first time and changing duties are those that are being performed in a new or different way. The use of new equipment and technology is a good example.

Problem Prone Duties

These are duties which may be performed frequently or infrequently for which there is a reliable data source that indicates that there are problems in performance. CPR performance is a notable and currently high profile example of such a duty.

Low Volume or High Risk Duties

These are rarely performed duties that carry a significant risk of harm. The list above represents a wide range of duties, but there are some over-arching practices that may help build competency regardless of the category.

Embrace Multi-Faceted Educational Interventions

It is well understood that learners have different learning styles and preferences. They also bring varied levels of experience and varied educational backgrounds to their jobs and to the learning environment. Ideally, competency building approaches should include a variety of tools to reinforce learning and accommodate the spectrum of learning styles and preferences.

Consider a process that includes more than one mode. Begin with a self-study module to build a foundation upon which to grow competencies. A skills lab or simulation where participants have an opportunity to observe and practice the skill could be the next step and will give educational staff an opportunity to provide real-time feedback. An approach that incorporates Voice-Assisted Manikins (VAMs) will provide even more robust feedback to the student. Consider supplementing self-study and skills labs with other supporting educational opportunities such as grand rounds, journal clubs, and repositories for other references that can be readily accessed by staff.

Turning Concept into Practice

Regardless of the category of the competency being evaluated, there should be an appropriate tool for accurately documenting performance. The same system should also be the repository for action and education plans when necessary, along with their completion and re-evaluation dates.

This blog post is the third in a series of excerpts from the HealthStream article, Maintaining Competency: Turning Concepts into Practice. Healthcare providers use the HealthStream Competency Center to Measure & Validate Competency. Doing so includes the ability to measure and benchmark behaviors or levels of competence in positions across the healthcare field through peer, preceptor, or manager appraisal, including methods of validation and evidence of achievement. Explore HealthStream clinical development solutions that ensure competency.


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