Core Competency Framework: The (hard) working group!

Tejal Shah gives an update on progress from the FCI Competency Framework Working Group

With the Clinical Informatics Core Competency Framework now published, it has set the pace for the next phase of this work – implementation of the framework.  In our last update, Lesley Holdsworth introduced the Competency Framework Working Group (CFWG) - established to oversee the development of a plan and set of recommendations to implement the Competency Framework.

The scope of the CFWG is set out in seven key areas that the group members focus their efforts in. One of these areas is about developing recommendations for using the Competency Framework to accredit courses. A group of FCI members with extensive experience and interest in education and training in clinical informatics, both as learners as well as educators, are currently working on this.

The recommendations for implementation of the framework for accreditation consider pedagogical principles as they apply through the full spectrum of an education programme from curriculum design to outcomes evaluation and improvement. The group views the implementation from two perspectives – that of the learners as well as of the educators. For the learners, accreditation should enable them to identify high quality training that is relevant, evidence-based, will meet their learning needs, and evidence their achievement of competencies in the domain. Equally for educators, the framework should help inform the curriculum and help align it with national and international standards.

Another piece of work this group undertakes is about identifying methods and/or tools that can support the process of accreditation. With 111 unique competencies, across all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, the framework is quite extensive. Competency mapping for the purpose of accreditation can thus be considered as part of the knowledge management process. Therefore, it is important to use methods/tools that not only simplify the process of competency mapping but also ensure it remains extensible.

One of the initial options being considered is to organise the Competency Framework as a property graph model. In simple terms, it means organising the (data within the) framework as a graph of nodes (individual entities) that are connected through relationships. The nodes and relationships can be further enriched with properties. Implementing this model through a graph database has several advantages including preserving provenance information, enabling complex querying, and ensuring extensibility. Furthermore, information visualisation and interactive navigation are additional advantages especially when compared to manual process of competency mapping. Equally important is the ability to ask simple to complex queries and obtaining answers almost instantly. An example implementation has been done through Neo4j, which is a native graph database. A section of the Competency Framework is visualised in the picture below in Neo4j’s visualisation tool, Bloom, which also allows interactive navigation of the information by displaying further details when a node or relationship is selected. The picture also shows an example mapping for the course on SNOMED CT Basics, offered by Newcastle University, thus providing an overview of the framework and its implementation through competency mapping. Ultimately, it is the expectation that through a graphical user interface, educators will be able to interact with the competency framework and undertake the mapping process.

This is, of course, just one of the approaches that can be adopted to manage the mapping process for accreditation. The goal, eventually, is to support educators in having their courses accredited and for learners to be able to maintain documentation of and evidence their competencies.

The group is keen to hear from colleagues who would like to share their experiences and knowledge in clinical informatics education and training. Please do not hesitate to get in touch, your input would be very valuable in helping progress this task. In the meantime, we aim to keep sharing further developments with you!

Dr Tejal Shah

Lecturer (Institute of coding) Newcastle University

Associate FCI
CFWG member