ACC releases lifelong learning competencies document for cardiologists

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) competency management committee released a report on Feb. 19 outlining competencies cardiologists should develop during their careers.

The document, 2016 ACC Lifelong Learning Competencies for General Cardiologists, organizes the competencies based on six domains that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and American Board of Medical Specialties developed. The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) also endorsed the six domains.

The 19-person ACC Competency Management Committee, which is co-chaired by Eric S. Williams, MD, and Jonathan L. Halperin, MD, oversees the development and revisions of cardiovascular training and competency statements pertaining to general cardiology. It also deals with advanced training in areas for which there are ABIM added-qualification designations such as clinical cardiac electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, heart failure and adult congenital heart disease.

The ACC first defined the knowledge, experience, skills and behaviors cardiologists should gain after completing their fellowships with the publication of the Core Cardiovascular Training Statement (COCATS) in 1995. The fourth version of the COCATS was published in March 2015.

Williams and Halperin were co-chairs of the 12-person writing committee that developed the lifelong learning competencies document. The ACC selected the writing committee, which included cardiovascular training program directors, cardiology clinic directors, early career cardiovascular disease prevention experts, experienced specialists and physicians.

The writing committee posted the document for public comment from Nov. 2, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2015. During that time period, they received and reviewed 165 comments.

The lifelong learning competencies are organized into the following six domains: medical knowledge, patient care and procedural skill, systems-based practice, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills and professionalism.

The document provides clinical competencies for the following areas: ambulatory, consultative and longitudinal cardiovascular care; cardiovascular disease prevention; ECG/ambulatory ECG; exercise ECG testing; echocardiography; nuclear cardiology; cardiovascular CT; cardiovascular MRI; invasive cardiology; stable ischemic heart disease; acute coronary syndromes; valvular heart disease; heart failure; pericardial disease; vascular medicine; cardiac arrhythmias and electrophysiology; critical care cardiology; adults with simple congenital heart disease; and adults with complex congenital heart disease.

“This Competency Statement complements the basic training in cardiovascular medicine required of all trainees during the standard 3-year cardiovascular fellowship by focusing on the core competencies reasonably expected of all general cardiologists throughout the span of their careers,” the committee members wrote. “It also identifies certain aspects of cardiovascular medicine that exceed core expectations and may be maintained or achieved by some general cardiologists, depending on their background and practice focus. This document provides examples of appropriate measures for assessing competence in the context of lifelong learning.”