American College of Cardiology releases competency guidelines for general cardiologists


The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has release its 2016 ACC Lifelong Learning Competencies for General Cardiologists. This document defines the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of practising clinical cardiologists. Its release is intended to ensure the highest levels of quality and service for patients, according to an ACC release.

Competencies are organised into six competency areas, as developed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education & American Board of Medical Specialties and endorsed by the American Board of Internal Medicine. These categories include medical knowledge, patient care and procedural skill, systems-based practice, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, and professionalism. The document also includes leadership and administrative competencies such as organisational skills, professional identity, interaction with governmental and health care systems, and personal balance. A key feature of the document is adherence to appropriate use and guideline driven criteria for patient care and resource utilisation.

“These lifelong learning competencies serve as the underpinning of all ACC education activities, and are a mechanism for needs assessment and personalised or focused education for physicians,” says Eric S Williams, professor of medicine and associate director of the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University and IU Health and chair of the writing committee.

There are a number of assessment tools for physicians to expand lifelong learning and maintain competency, as well as to assess their professional needs for education and performance improvement. Available tools include certified continuing medical education activities relevant to an individual’s practice, review of practice or hospital data, performance assessment and improvement programs, and facilitated self-reflection. For procedural or diagnostic laboratory activities, assessment tools may include registry or hospital data, appropriate use criteria, and metrics developed by national organisations.

Together with the Core Cardiology Training Statement (COCATS 4), released in March 2015, the ACC documents cover the spectrum of a career cardiologist from training through their practice career.

“In the end, all are intended to provide the highest levels of service and care- whenever and wherever we are privileged to serve them,” says Williams.

The paper has been published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.