Ultrasound CQR and Structured Education
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) has implemented a system of Structured Education and Continuing Qualification Requirements (CQR). The new requirements do not apply to Radiologic Technologists certified before January 1, 2011. However, technologists who first got their certificate on or after 1/1/2011 have a time-limited license that is valid for 10 years. Renewing certification for an additional 10 years requires completion of the CQR process. Also, to remain compliant with ARRT rules and regulations and the Standard of Ethics, R.T.’s are required to complete a renewal process annually and continuing education requirements every two years. R.T.s in Sonography need CE credits related directly to this subject. This is known as structured education.
CONTINUING QUALIFICATIONS REQUIREMENTS (CQR)
The ARRT believes that advancements in medical technology and accelerations in the healthcare field have made the idea of “once certified, forever qualified” obsolete and no longer able to meet the needs of patients or the profession.
According to the ARRT, there are a number of important benefits of completing CQR, such as confidence building, but this is primarily a quality control mechanism to periodically assess knowledge and skills. Time-limited certification ensures R.T.s are prepared to meet changing standards and provide high-quality care and accountability to their patients. It identifies gaps in knowledge and compares an R.T.s skills to others in the profession. CQR demonstrates to both patients and the medical community that an RT is up-to-date on best practices. Here’s what you need to know about CQR:
- CQR applies to credentials earned after 1/1/2011.
- CQR needs to be completed every 10 years for each eligible discipline.
- R.T.s have three years to complete the CQR process.
- R.T.s cannot fail the Structured Self-Assessment (SSA); this is not a test.
- CQR credits can be used for biennium CE requirements.
- CQR is free in most cases.
The ARRT has outlined three components of CQR:
- Professional Profile: An R.T.’s professional profile highlights achievements related to education, work, special skills, and professional development. This is an important reflective exercise that gives the big-picture on how an R.T. has maintained qualifications since first becoming certified. The types and number of procedures performed is documented. This enables an R.T.’s experience to be compared to peers. A menu of optional clinical education resources is offered based on the answers provided in the survey. These free resources can help in brushing up on some of the procedures an R.T. does not often encounter. The resources are intended to prepare the R.T. for the upcoming structured self-assessment. The professional profile takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.
- Structured Self-Assesment (SSA). The ARRT has developed a unique structured self-assessment process. This is not a test and an R.T. cannot pass or fail the SSA. It is more like a survey designed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an R.T. and identify any gaps in knowledge and skills related to a credential. The SSA can be taken at a Pearson VUE center or online with monitoring provided by a remote proctor using a webcam. The SSA takes about 2 hours to complete.
- Structured CE. SSA participants receive a report listing “targeted” learning opportunities identified by the assessment. Completing the prescribed continuing education (CE) activities in the areas identified by the SSA is the third and final component of the CQR process. In most cases, these activities count towards the biennial CE requirements. It may be possible to distribute the prescribed CE credits across two bienniums, thereby reducing or eliminating additional CE costs.
(See https://www.arrt.org/CQR for details)
STRUCTURED CONTINUING EDUCATION (CE)
As part of the ARRT’s CQR process, an R.T.s results in the structured self-assesment (SSA) determine the CE subjects that must be completed in order to renew their certification. In addition, ARRT has continuing education requirements where R.T.s need to complete and report 24 CE credits every two years. For R.R.A.s, the requirement is 50 credits. For R.T.s in Sonography 16 out of 24 credits must be related directly to this discipline. Some CE activities count for more than one credit. Typical activities include self-study from textbooks, lectures, seminars, classroom learning, and online courses. The CE activities need to be reported every biennium (two years) as part of the annual renewal process. The annual renewal and CE biennium deadline are on two separate dates.
SDMS LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
The Society for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) offers learning opportunities to R.T.s in the form of webinars, handouts, and articles on sonography specialties in various categories. These learning activities can be applied towards continuing medical education (CME) credits.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) offers R.T.s the chance to demonstrate core clinical skills and up-to-date knowledge throughout their career. Maintaining ARDMS certification requires:
- Paying the annual renewal fee online.
- Attesting to the ARDMS rules and compliance policies every year.
- Earning the minimum required CME credits within a 3-year period.
(See http://www.ardms.org/Maintain-Certification/CME/Pages/CME.aspx for details)
What you need to do:
If you were first certified in 2010 or earlier, you don’t need to do anything.
If you were certified in 2011 or later, you will need to watch out for your renewal.
If you are planning to pursue additional credentials using the ARRT’s postprimary pathway, you will need credits approved in specific categories.
An R.T.’s CQR compliance window will begin seven years after the initial certification. For example, for R.T.s who earned their certification in 2011, the compliance phase started in 2018, allowing three years to complete the professional profile, structured self-assessment, and targeted continuing education by 2021 when the 10-year certification renewal will be due.
Learn more about ARRT Examination Content Specifications and CQR Structured Self-Assessment Content Specifications.
Tests judge performance by delivering a passing or failing score. Assessments, on the other hand, mentor and guide professional development. No pass/fail or win/lose scenarios factor into assessments; it’s win/win because the process rewards knowledge already in place and reveals opportunities for self-improvement. How is the assessment’s content determined? Assessments will be built on content specifications from the most recent discipline practice analyses that are in place when the individual is approaching their CQR process deadline. The content reflects the knowledge necessary to perform the role for which certification was awarded. It reflects expectations for entry-level practice in the most current year. How is targeted CE different than biennial CE? Currently, R.T.s may choose any topic for biennium CE regardless of relevance to their particular discipline – as long as the CE is Category A or A+. CQR CE will be more prescriptive in that it will be specific to the discipline(s) of certification and tied directly to the content specifications.Since assessments are structured using discipline-specific practice content outlines, weaker areas of knowledge can be pin-pointed and linked back to a specific area of content knowledge. R.T.s will receive personalized assessment findings, outlining strong and weak areas. ARRT is working with RCEEM’s over the next several years to develop criteria for CE activities that remediate – or educates on specific (targeted) topics. Will I still need to complete biennium CE in addition to targeted CQR CE? The biennial CE process remains a fundamental component of maintaining certification and registration. In most circumstances, CQR CE will be able to be applied to applicable biennium CE. Registered Radiologist Assistants (R.R.A.s) certifications have always been time-limited and the CQR process begins in 2013.