The Journey to Joint Accreditation and Interprofessional Continuing Education: It Starts with Relationship

By Laura Werts, MEd, MS, CMP; Laura Belles, PharmD; Jill Guilfoile, MEd, BSN, RN-BC; Anna Herbert, MSN, RN, CPHON; Sharon Herndon, BS; Odile Kennedy, MSN, APRN, CNP; Anne Lesko, PharmD; Andrea Thrasher, MEd; Melissa Worrell, MA

In December 2018, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center accomplished a long-time goal by achieving Joint Accreditation status.  While this achievement marked the end of one part of our interprofessional continuing education (IPCE) journey, it was the beginning of another. 

Over the next three weeks in the Almanac, we will share how we started, what we’ve learned along the way, our successes and missteps and where we’re going next. This first installment focuses on the essential role relationships play in the journey.

The Right Travelling Companions

Everyone knows the best road trips are those shared with the right companions. In our case, the continuing medical education (CME) and continuing nursing education (CNE) teams began a deliberate effort to standardize processes and share best practices and resources eight years before a decision was made to apply for Joint Accreditation. 

Tangible improvements made during that time included creating joint:

  • Financial disclosure and resolution process
  • Purchase of a database
  • Commercial support agreements
  • Application for multi-credit activities between CME and CNE
  • Attendance validation processes, including implementation of text attendance for Regularly Scheduled Series
  • Evaluation form 

Additionally, and just as important, the CME and CNE teams started to develop a shared vision to guide our journey toward interprofessional continuing education (IPCE).  At the same time, Cincinnati Children’s was solidifying its place as a leader in quality improvement, which, by definition in a hospital setting, has teamwork at its core.  We saw that IPCE could be a strategic asset for the hospital to further encourage team-based care, quality improvement and improved patient outcomes. 

In 2015, we invited pharmacy educators who were redesigning their CE program to join us in a working group studying the feasibility of applying for and implementing Joint Accreditation.  Together, we researched the business case for IPCE and worked on areas that needed to be strengthened (eg, adding more team-based evaluation questions and tweaking our mission statement to emphasize team-based education).  Our group ultimately recommended that Cincinnati Children’s move forward to application, which led to the next leg of our trip.

The Right Funding

Any journey has associated costs and benefits.  Our business proposal outlined factors such as:

  • Costs: both tangible (accreditation fees, space, etc.) and intangible (time needed for process development, change management and infrastructure development)
  • Benefits: the ability to transition single profession education into team-based education, alignment with the organization’s strategic plan, recognition as an educational leader and increased efficiencies leading to increased capacity
  • Timeline for completion

Having a great proposal, however, is meaningless if the right stakeholders aren’t onboard to consider it.  The working group realized early on that the best chance for success would be to approach the CME leadership for funding with buy-in obtained from leadership across all three groups.  Each working group member kept their leadership apprised of progress with more in-depth conversations taking place with CME leadership.  During those conversations, it became clear that leadership valued increased efficiencies. 

Any journey’s success is dependent on the right timing.  We had originally planned to submit our application six months’ earlier than we did.  The timeline to prepare the application documentation was going to be tight but manageable.  Once we learned, however, that annual reporting through a single database was not going to be rolled out until the next application cycle, we revised our plan.  We knew that we couldn’t make a case for increased efficiency without this capability, and we knew that increased efficiency was crucial to a successful proposal.  When our leadership learned the reason for the delay, it gave them confidence that a recommendation would only be made if it was in the best interest of the institution.  This brings us to the final relationship that was crucial to our successful beginning.

The Right Navigator

The leader of the team’s role as navigator can make or break a journey.  Our journey’s success was dependent on our leader’s ability to work within our system, build relationships and connect IPCE to institutional strategic goals.  As already demonstrated, relationships within the CE teams and with our stakeholders were vital.  By developing a strong interprofessional working group, our leader leveraged the strengths of each area and challenged us to model interprofessional teamwork in our daily operations.  By learning what was important to stakeholders and ensuring we addressed those areas, she increased our chances for proposal acceptance.  She also reached out to colleagues in business development who reviewed our proposal, to members of our IPCE (formerly CME committee) to develop advocates across the institution and to other providers to learn from their journey. 

Final Tips

The right relationships are crucial to the successful start of any Joint Accreditation and IPCE journey.  These relationships include:

  • The right travelling companions: partners to develop processes, procedures, and plans
  • The right funding: stakeholders who can advocate and provide resourcing for your program
  • The right navigator: a guide who has the skills to lead within your system

Our next installment will tackle the second leg of our journey — the application and self-study process!

 

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