Volunteers at the heart of the AFC-diplomas category
To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we’ve created some special profiles to showcase the difference volunteers make and why they are an integral part of the work we do.
Lucinda Whitman, MD, FRCPC, was the first to take on the challenge.
Transfusion Medicine was originally recognized as an Accreditation without Certification (AWC) discipline. This was in response to the 1997 Krever report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, which aimed to improve the education of transfusion professionals in Canada. Dr. Whitman submitted an application to transition the discipline to an AFC-diploma on the basis that a competency-based AFC would provide flexibility in training for individuals entering from different specialty or subspecialty disciplines.
Over the next three years, Dr. Whitman served as chair of the working group tasked with defining the discipline and developing standards, and then as chair of the AFC Committee in Transfusion Medicine, which continues to oversee the implementation and maintenance of the national standards.
Others followed in Dr. Whitman’s footsteps. Early volunteers included Dr. Peter G. Guerra and Dr. Martin Green, who brought forward Adult Cardiac Electrophysiology; Dr. James Tam and Dr. Ian Burwash for Adult Echocardiography; and Dr. Donald Palisaitis for Adult Interventional Cardiology. Contributing to the success of these initial applications was Dr. Cathy Kells of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS). She played a key role in working with these applicants to align and coordinate the Cardiology-related applications.
Setting national standards in new AFC-diplomas categories
In 2011, the Royal College established the Areas of Focused Competence (AFC) diploma category. It recognizes disciplines that meet a legitimate societal need but do not meet the criteria of a specialty or subspecialty. AFC-diplomas are intended to provide national standards for training and patient care in these areas.
Scores of volunteers have been key to the implementation of this new category, since the Royal College’s Committee on Specialties (COS) received its first AFC diploma application eight years ago.
Volunteers support critical activities associated with AFC-diplomas including
- the review of applications by COS,
- development of training standards and
- the review of AFC-diploma portfolios.
Paving a path for more robust standards
To date, COS has recognized 24 AFC diplomas. Largely thanks to the efforts of Royal College volunteers, 18 of those disciplines are “live” with approved standards now maintained by the AFC committees and subcommittees. The remaining six are at the working group phase. Across the disciplines, there are 35 accredited training programs and AFC directors across the country.
Since AFC diploma recognition began, the Royal College estimates that well over 1,000 passionate, dedicated and committed volunteers have contributed to the AFC program. These volunteers have served as appointed members of discipline-specific committees or other Royal College committees such as the Specialty Standards Review Committee, the AFC-Accreditation Committee and COS. Many others have volunteered for individual roles, such as accreditation surveyors, or serve as one of the 107 volunteer portfolio assessors available to assess candidate portfolios arriving through the trainee or practice eligibility route (PER-AFC).
The Royal College recognizes the leadership and expertise of the many volunteers who, through their participation in the AFC program, have paved a path for more robust national standards and better quality of care for many Canadians.
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