School of Medicine awarded accreditation with honors
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 09:03
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) last semster awarded the Office of Continuing Education (OCE) at the School of Medicine accreditation with the highest honor it gives out after evaluating the office on 15 basic qualifications and seven additional criteria. The council evaluated the OCEon whether it promoted the use of higher education for social change, OCE Director Rosalie Phillips said. The additional pieces also look for collaboration between groups involved in patient care and quality improvement, she said.
“We were granted Commendation because we not only [met] all the basic requirements
but we’ve also satisfied these additional, fairly new criteria to report quality improvement in health care with continuing education as one of the levers to do that,” Phillips said.
The OCE’s accreditation term will last for six years, instead of the usual four years that would have been granted without the commendationm, according to a Jan. 10 press release from the OCE to the Dean’s Office of Tufts School of Medicine.
The OCE has provided medical professionals with ongoing training for over 30 years, according to OCE Assistant Director Karin Pearson.
Phillips explained the importance of continuing education for health professionals. “Physicians, nurses, pharmacists
have always been dedicated to lifelong learning once they graduate,” she said. “It is the longest period of learning for them.”
The OCE works with the Tufts Health Care Institute (THCI), which was established in 1995, to help health professionals understand the environment in which they work, according to Pearson.
“[The OCE and THCI] were started for the same reason, but we were started separately,” she explained.
The OCE serves a wide scope of health professionals, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists, Pearson said.
“Our activities are available not just for Tufts health care faculty and professionals, but nationally and internationally as well,” she said.
The OCE’s application process lasted from fall 2011 until April 2012, when the OCE filed the accreditation report with the ACCME, according to Pearson. In June, the ACCME conducted an interview with the OCE as part of the process, and the OCE officially received Accreditation with Commendation on Nov. 1, Phillips said.
Phillips explained that before any certifying body existed for continuing medical education programs, there were no standards to compare the quality of different programs.
Pharmaceutical or device manufacturers would often sponsor programs in the interest of seeing their product accepted into medical use, often designing multiple aspects of the course and paying professors to use their products, according to Phillips.
She said that when accreditation processes first started to appear, some were skeptical about whether certain products were being pushed.
There has been a large push in the last seven years to modify the accreditation standards to ensure there are no inappropriate conflicts of interest, according to Phillips.
“Now, our accrediting bodies are
really pushing us to use continuing medical education
in a way that promotes improvements in the quality of care,” she said.
The ACCME introduced the 22-point accreditation, including the seven additional points for commendation, in 2006. At that time, the OCE did not seek commendation, Phillips said.
“It was voluntary at that time. Now it’s not voluntary, and you either get it or you don’t,” Phillips said.
Besides the ACCME, the OCE also received accreditation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). “ACCME tends to set the standard, but they all have their tweaks and variations,” Phillips said.
The OCE went through all three accreditation cycles in 18 months, she said.
“On one hand, it’s a real pain in the neck, but on the other hand it’s a real chance to look back and examine what we’re doing and look at where we want to make improvements,” Phillips said.