What’s the problem with ‘Continuing Competence’?

Ensuring the ongoing competence of regulated professionals is a key focus for regulators and often an important objective of Quality Assurance programming. However, in most cases, ongoing competence is almost exclusively tied to continuing education and the associated collection of a pre-determined number of continuing education units (CEUs). This linking is problematic because research indicates that education alone does not correlate with safe and effective performance in the workplace. In other words, knowing something well does not necessarily translate into doing it well in a practice or work context. Further, the number of continuing education units assigned by a regulator is often arbitrary and not directly associated with improved performance, enhanced mastery or safer practice. Further ‘continuing competence’ as a concept is itself problematic. To say that competence ‘continues’ suggests that competence over a career-span is a constant. But in fact, competence is not a constant – it is context-specific, and it evolves over time in an individualized manner. As we say – it is a moving target!

Re-thinking continuing competence requires a new framework that will enable more impactful programming to support professionals not only to meet required CEUs or minimum standards, but to enable mastery and expertise in their professional performance to become the best they can be. This is the aim of the CSC Approach.

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