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The article “Defining and Assessing Professional Competence” generally has been written to propose a way of defining competence of physicians, review the modern means of assessment and suggest new approaches to assessment. This topic is important because people tend to trust medicine less and less, so the question of professional assessment of physicians should be raised.
Medical schools, training programs for postgraduates, as well as various bodies of licensing, make assessments in order to certify the future practitioners and their competence. To define professional competence of trainees and physicians, the following areas should be taken into consideration: cognitive, affective/moral, relationship, context, integrative, technical, and mind habits.
Medicine that is based on evidence is a system used to produce appropriate questions, interpret new knowledge, and provide sound judgment on knowledge application in clinical settings. Tacit knowledge also defines competence, and refers to knowledge that is known, but hard to explain. Personal knowledge is knowledge that is usable and acquired through experience. Patients’ demeanor is observed by clinicians with the help of their personal knowledge. In this case, the clinicians make diagnosis, after which information is elicited for confirmation. Professional competence helps a physician to see different parts in terms of the whole better than when they are shown separately. A medical student may know how to analyze many body parts, but may be completely unable to diagnose some sickness. The competence of a clinician implies that he/she has an ability to feel, think and act appropriately.
The object, means and usefulness of the assessment must be taken into account when it comes to assessment. The aim of assessment is to foster learning in the future. Today, the validity of competence is assessed with the help of such aspects as problem solving, core knowledge, and clinical skills. Such are the characteristics that a professional physician should have: integrative, technical, cognitive, relational, contextual, moral, and affective aspects. The use of intermediate outcomes, expert opinion and some studies shows the connection between actual performance and assessment results.
There are numerous reasons that should push individuals to do assessment. The very first reason is for the trainee. Here, provision of adequate feedback is useful to show trainee’s weaknesses and strengths that would guide their future learning. It also fosters self-reflection and self-remediation habits. The second reason is for the curriculum. In this case, absence of demonstrated competence will require adequate response. The achievements of curricular objectives are certified. Then the standards of competence are established at various levels. Reason number three is for the institutions. In this case, a guiding process of institutional remediation and self-reflection is established. The values of institutions are determined by the object and the conclusion of an assessment. Educational values should be developed in a wide and diverse community of educators. The other reason is for the public.
It should be noted that assessments are institutional values statements that are done for the future directions. It is important that curricular time is devoted to professionalism assessment. Performance is measurable while competence is a quality that is inferred. Many medical schools in Canada, Spain, UK, USA and Netherlands among others have made commitments directed to innovative professional assessments of physicians’ competence. These innovative assessments of professional competence include: multimethod assessment, professional reasoning that is used in cases when clinical uncertainty is required, assessments by patients, videotapes, portfolios self-assessment monitoring and many others.
In conclusion, the article addresses assessment of physicians’ competence. It is vital to make assessments in order to have medical professionals who are competent enough to cure the patients. Incompetent medical practitioners pose a serious threat to the public and that is why appropriate steps that would improve the situation should be made, even though this issue has to be handled delicately. Medical schools in various parts of the planet have come together for the purpose of designing proper assessment ways to eradicate incompetence. Numerous innovations that are related to medical professionalism assessments have been made. These innovations have been effective in handling the matter. This way, the professionals in this field will get to higher competence levels.