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To communicate competencies to other healthcare professionals in the emergency department (ED) setting.
A system of competency badges has been developed that are awarded to junior doctors as and when they complete a structured skills assessment.
Early assessment suggests that the merit badge system has great potential benefits to ED management. Junior doctors are motivated to complete skills assessments and thereby to obtain the relevant badge. Merit badges allow a rapid communication of attained skills to all healthcare professionals in the ED setting. The department will be fully compliant with the system by 1 April 2008.
A competency badge system may aid ED management and promote skills‐based learning in the ED.
In recent years, there have been radical changes to the staffing and training of junior doctors in emergency departments (EDs). Modernising medical careers (MMC) 1 and educationalists2 have proposed a competency‐based approach to training, with doctors creating portfolios of evidence to demonstrate these competencies. In addition to the change in foundation training, the increased use of locums in some departments and the subspecialty training of our middle‐grade doctors means that it is often difficult to determine what skills our junior doctors actually have. We sought a method to communicate a doctor's competencies to other health professionals in a way that allowed a rapid and clear illustration of their abilities.
Visual clues to competencies have been used in many organisations, notably the Scouting movement that has used a system of merit badges to demonstrate that a Scout has learnt and demonstrated competency in a given skill or task.3 This is very similar to the approach taken in MMC, and we have therefore developed a system of competency badges worn on the doctor's uniform for use in the ED. The department awards badges when a junior doctor has satisfactorily completed an assessment. The assessment method is task specific. For example, cannulation is assessed using the current direct observation of procedural skills (DOPS) 4 system as detailed in MMC. We also produce badges as and when junior doctors complete external courses, such as advanced paediatric life support (APLS).5
These badges give a visual representation of the skill that has been assessed. In general, the illustration is on a red background. However, for skill assessors (or instructors in the case of courses) the badge has a gold background to demonstrate a higher level of ability. Examples can be seen in fig 11.
We are piloting the scheme with our F2 doctors this year. The department will be fully compliant across all grades of doctors on 1 April next year.
Should you wish to view a greater selection of badges, then please visit the electronic version of the paper on the EMJ website.
Competing interests: None declared.