Clinics are already working full tilt to deliver client care let alone have the capacity for a robust, evidence based, peer reviewed and comprehensive education program. Many clinics have a handful of staff and it is only the few, larger clinical organisations that have sufficient resources and mechanisms in place to deliver consistent, robust educational programs. The cost of taking staff off the floor (and the associated loss of income) for externally provided education combined with salary, travel and accommodation costs can be prohibitive and a big barrier to education. Fortunately, e-learning and ‘flipped learning concepts’ as described by Australian entrepreneur Jack Delosa are becoming the teaching strategy of choice in the 21st Century and help to overcome the blocks to quality education.
Learning about laser safety, laser, IPL and other energy based device applications from the people who sell the equipment is the equivalent of your pharmacology education coming from the pharmaceutical companies. Here it is the ethics of the degree and depth of information that is shared that is at stake. You need sufficient independent education to make informed decisions.
Here’s an infection control example of not knowing enough. One clinic was buying an expensive new piece of equipment after being told by the seller that the treatment tips were able to be used on multiple clients if you washed them with a detergent wipe and an alcohol swab. After buying it the owners realised that the tips were labelled single use only. They discovered that the fines for not adhering to the infection control regulation was in the tens of thousands and that having to replace the tips for each new client added ten percent onto the cost of the treatment. They were not happy, the owners of the clinic nor the new clients they had recruited for whom they had to increase the price for. We are pleased to see that infection control modules are now built into the Queensland license applications. Have any of the device sellers ever given you information on managing a burn? What about what size burn is cause for a referral? We suspect the word 'burn' would never, ever cross their lips. Do the sales representatives really know their stuff? I was told by one orientating me to an Nd:YAG laser that the client safety goggles were titanium. Impressive metal. Except when I read the manufacturer information after he left they were stainless steel. Credibility….lost.
Continuing professional development is a well defined concept for registered health professionals and with non-registered health professionals being held to the same account as their AHPRA regulated colleagues they too are expected to meet the same high standards. Scope of practice means the professional role and services that an individual health practitioner is trained, qualified and competent to perform. The training has to be independent, meet high standards and should be recognised by peak professional bodies and radiation health departments.
We should expect that workplace-based and medical device seller’s education is an adjunct to a larger, well constructed career development plan. Of course it should be. You need to understand the culture of your workplace, the policy and procedures, and intimately know about the machinery you are using every day from the people who know it back to front. You want to be mentored and assessed by your peers too. Furthermore, implementation of a Decision making framework similar to that used for nurses can be implemented by all clinicians to solidify how the different sources of education can act in synergy. What does it do? It enables you to understand what your current scope of practice is and where you want to grow it to and used with a professional development plan (Check out this free resource from AUSMED if you haven’t already) will enable you to plan your quality education efficiently.
A key question to ask yourself before you perform any treatment is “Have I sought the appropriate education, supervision and competence assessment by a qualified person to prepare me?” If your relevant AHPRA Board audits you this year will you be able to back up your new, expanded or current scope of practice with evidence of high quality education, supervision and competence assessment? Say 'Yes!'
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