« Previous | Main | Next »

Concerns About Continuing Education

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

There are persistent concerns that continuing education in many fields is ineffective, and there is no assurance that practitioners acquire specific skills. This is especially relevant for the California acupuncture profession, given that the push to increase educational requirements has been officially predicated on concerns that acupuncturists are unprepared to treat patients as independent practitioners.

The Department of Consumer Affairs does not have strong rules for ensuring the quality of continuing education that could be applied for all professional boards. Among the concerns across the professions are:

  • No examination. Regulators do not typically test to ensure that critical new information is understood by professionals who are renewing their licenses, only initial licensees.
  • Open-ended curriculum. Coursework is not targeted on information that is necessary to protect patients.
  • Inadequate audits. Course content is not sufficiently audited.

Many professions and specialties have used private certifications for ensuring continued and improving competency, such as board certifications for various medical doctor specialty areas such as internal and occupational medicine.100

Regardless, state regulators have an obligation to ensure that the continuing education programs that they have in place ensure safe practices are followed by all licenses.

The Acupuncture Board maintains that existing requirements for continuing education are adequate to ensure that current licensees have the knowledge, skills and abilities that will soon be incorporated in the higher educational standards.

From a public safety perspective, it is difficult to accept that new students should receive additional training on issues directed at improving patient safety without requiring current licensees to receive at least some of that training in a meaningful way. It is incumbent upon regulators to ensure that patient safety material is incorporated into the clinical practices of long-standing practitioners as well.

Some practitioners suggested a formula of applying years of experience as a factor in calculating additional continuing education requirements. However, new information that impacts patient safety will not be obtained through experience alone, particularly since so many acupuncturists are self-employed. Instead, continuing education requirements can be focused on the patient safety material that demonstrates the needed knowledge, skills and abilities.

Cancer treatment confusion. As discussed in the Background, the treatment of cancer patients is a perfect example of the need to use continuing education hours for the purpose of ensuring the incorporation of critical patient care information into practice. Cancer treatment is an area that could be clarified through a combination of patient disclosure information and well-designed continuing competency improvement education.



Also On This Topic

Managed Hosting by BlueCliffHosting.com