When OH practitioners boast of 20 years’ experience, do they mean 20 years
of the same year, or have they continually refreshed their knowledge? This was
the provocative question education and healthcare consultant Greta Thornbory,
posed to delegates in her illuminating talk, Staying Ahead in OH Practice.
Her talk opened with a discussion of the new NMC Code of Practice, whose
prime function is to protect the public by informing the profession on how they
should behave. The new codes of practice "reinforce our
accountability", she said, and with Clause 6 of the Code, you are duty
bound to "maintain your professional knowledge and competence".
Clause 6 states that occupational health professionals must keep up to date
with the latest clinical and professional developments and be able to practice
competently without direct supervision. It also, explained Thornbory, expects
that you "be honest if you don’t feel you’ve got the skills and need to
obtain help from a competent practitioner".
For example, she explained, "How many healthcare professionals still
have the skills or the experience necessary to administer the smallpox vaccine,
which may soon be on offer again?"
She went on to explain other aspects of Clause 6, which include a duty to
facilitate students and offer care based on current evidence and best practice.
For a detailed look at the NMC Code of Professional Practice, see Greta
Thornbory’s article, Occupational Health: 54 (10) 21-23.