Archive for the ‘credentialing’ Category

By Brendan Mason FFPH, Chair of the FPH Education Committee

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is exploring the potential of credentialing, as a means of making careers in public health more flexible and strengthening governance. The General Medical Council (GMC) defines credentialing as: “a process which provides formal accreditation of competences (which include knowledge, skills and performance) in a defined area of practice, at a level that provides confidence that the individual is fit to practise in that area…”

The work is overseen by FPH’s Education Standing Committee. In 2017 a task and finish group, under the able leadership of David Chappel, was set up to explore the background to credentialing and how it might benefit public health. Credentialing has also been raised as a potentially important development by Fit for the Future, The Shape of Training report, Health of the Public 2040, and Facing the Facts.

FPH, supported by Public Health England, held a workshop on 8 February 2018 to bring together interested parties to discuss what the benefits of developing public health credentials might be and what we need to do next to develop them. Thirty-eight individuals attended the workshop.

There was widespread discussion both in small groups and plenary about both ‘post completion of speciality training credentials’ in fields such as health protection as well as a ‘public health credential’ for groups outside the core workforce doing public health work. FPH has a potential role as a ‘credentialing body’ which develops and awards a credential.

I have a number of personal reflections on what I heard on the day. The small groups all independently came up with a very consistent common message on credentialing after completion of speciality training. Speciality training is part of a process of lifelong learning, and mechanisms that already exist, such as continuing professional development and revalidation appraisal, are sufficient to ensure appropriate development in a consultant post. The curriculum is facilitative and its implementation in the delivery of training should prepare specialists for appointment to their first consultant posts. Consultants will then develop their professional knowledge and skills throughout their subsequent career.

A second common theme from participants was questioning the need for a specialist-level credential that covered part of the curriculum. For me these concerns were consistent with the FPH position that all specialists should demonstrate competence across the whole of the current curriculum at the point of specialist registration. There is a danger that such credentials would simply reinvent ‘defined specialists’.

The development of the wider public health workforce was seen as an important objective. The question for me that arose from these discussions was the form of this development: should it be a ‘regulated credential’, a ‘credential’ or some form of ‘certificate’ in public health.

Credentialing is a complex area. Credentials could take many forms and are a proposed solution for many real and perceived problems. Credentials may not always be the most effective or efficient way to address these problems. When a credential is an appropriate solution its development and implementation will require a partnership between a number of organisations. A credentialing body, such as FPH is necessary but not sufficient. A credential will need to be commissioned (funded) and the necessary training delivered by an educational provider.

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