By Mary Davis
Each year, the NACC Certification Commission tracks the competencies that are most frequently cited as “not met” when applicants are not recommended for certification following their interview.
We are concerned that the first several competencies cited (with the highest number of citations) reflect basic Level 1 CPE objectives: articulating how feelings, etc., affect practice; identifying one’s strengths and limitations in the provision of care; using pastoral authority; establishing, deepening, and concluding pastoral relationships; and building peer relationships. The remaining competencies are focused on ethics, human development, providing general spiritual support and support within grief and loss, and establishing interdisciplinary relationships.
On the one hand, it might be easy to see why an applicant would not be recommended if such basic competencies were not adequately addressed or assessed as not met. On the other hand, how can those who do not meet the competencies listed above meet the remaining competencies or be assessed as having met them?
The Certification Commission has reviewed and discussed these findings yearly, often in consultation with the Board of Directors. To learn more about how this is occurring, we sought input from those most affected by these outcomes: the applicants, the interviewers, and the interview team educators.
Applicants, interviewers, and ITEs offer feedback through post-surveys on a number of topics related to the certification process. From applicant feedback, the Certification Commission determined that these competencies could be bolstered through more specific prompts and questions within the Narrative Writing Guide. To this end, commissioners have taken specific competencies and are editing and drafting new questions/prompts for this document.
Discussions at ITE meetings about the competencies most frequently cited as unmet led to enlightening discussions about the competency language, cultural nuances affecting demonstration of competency, and assessment expectations of interviewers. One example is the difference between assessing for self-reflection on the part of the applicant and expecting this to be manifested through self-revelation. The ITEs have reinforced their preparation and education of interviewers around the understanding and assessment of these competencies.
Those who have been certified for some time might find it a useful exercise in approaching their peer review for renewal of certification to do a self-assessment of how they meet today’s competencies. Asking their peer reviewer for feedback on how closely they meet today’s competencies would also enrich and deepen the peer review experience.
The Certification Commission will revisit the list of competencies cited over the next two years to see if the additional education by ITEs, the amended writing guide, and ongoing education through pre-certification webinars and conference calls have helped more of our members succeed.
Mary D. Davis, BCC-S, is the group director of CPE for CHRISTUS Health and an ACPE-certified educator for the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System CPE program in San Antonio, Texas.