Duke Medicine demonstrates commitment to continuing medical education with joint accreditation

March 20, 2013 – Duke Medicine is now only one of six institutions in the nation to receive prestigious accreditation.

Duke Medicine, the conceptual integration of the Duke University Health System, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing, has always placed a strong emphasis on continuing medical education (CME) as a way to improve provider performance and thereby offer the best patient care. In recent years, the focus of CME has shifted from educating the individual health care provider to advocating for a team approach. Although these practices are already common at Duke, the organization lacked a formal, regulated process to guide and oversee cross-department educational endeavors. Duke Medicine recently received a “joint accreditation” award, representing both an affirmation of Duke’s continued education efforts and a renewed commitment to this pursuit.

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE,) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) started developing a joint accreditation process in 1998, but only began awarding this recognition to organizations in 2010. The process of evaluation lasts for nearly a year, with the applying organization first submitting a letter of intent and then performing and compiling an extensive self-study report. Duke Medicine is now only one of six institutions in the nation to receive this joint accreditation.

According to Director of DukeCME Chitra Subramaniam, MS, PhD, there has often been collaboration among departments within Duke, but the ongoing mandates of the joint accreditation bring a much-needed structure to these interactions and help to streamline the process.

“As a health system, we were already designing team-based education but weren’t really labeling it as such,” said Subramaniam. “We realized that the Department of Pharmacy, the Duke University Hospital Department of Clinical Education & Professional Development, and DukeCME were working separately, in silos, but we already had a lot of practices in common. For us, it made sense to tie everything together.”

In addition to Subramaniam, the Duke joint accreditation team included Pamela Edwards, EdD, MSN, RN-BC, FABC, CNE; Ellen Hegarty, MSEd, RN, BC, CNML; Jean Rea, RN, MN; Vonda Capps, RN, MSN; Paul Bush, PharmD, MBA, FASHP; Joanna Lewis, PharmD, MBA; and Jamie Watson.

Subramaniam said that the joint accreditation application process was challenging but gave each of the member-groups an excellent opportunity to learn more about how the other departments approached the education process and it allowed them to discover new avenues for effective cooperation. She commented that Duke’s strength is its diverse range of thought leaders and subject matter experts and that the only thing that was lacking was a formalized process to bring it all together.

“A team could include a pharmacist, nurses, physician assistants, therapists, and technicians and, in the past, if I wanted to put an activity together involving all of these groups I would have to do separate paperwork for each of them and go through multiple hurdles to make this happen,” said Subramaniam. “Of course there is no obligation that we have to collaborate across departments for every project, but if we decide that there is an activity that would benefit from a team approach, then we now have a process in place that will provide some oversight and allow things to run smoothly.”