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CAPC AD HOC COMMITTEE ON ACCREDITATION
Report by Tom Stone, Heather Dumka, Helen Holt, May 2002

Background:

At the CAPC AGM in Ottawa of 2000 a number of issues were raised by the membership relating to accreditation and the need to remain current in the field of conservation. At the 2001 AGM in Halifax an ad hoc committee consisting of Tom Stone, Heather Dumka, and Helen Holt was struck to consider the following issues:

* Should the CAPC require evidence of on-going professional activity as a way of maintaining accreditation?

* How long should accreditation remain valid?

* Should re-certification be required in members areas of expertise after a certain number of years?

* Should certification be required in other areas that members are involved with?

* When is past experience out of date when submitting a portfolio?

Overview:

Twelve organizations were examined from the point of view of the type of training and qualifications they required for membership and what each of these organizations asked of its members in the area of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

These organizations are:
The Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta
The National Athletic Trainers' Association
American Academy of Audiology/American Board of Audiology
Art Therapy Credentials Board
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Appraisal Institute of Canada
College of Dental Hygiene of Ontario
College of Massage Therapists of Ontario
Ontario College of Nursing
Purchasing Management Association of Canada
The American Quilters' Society
The National Council for Conservation Restoration

 

Details of the methods of accreditation and the continuing professional development requirements for these organizations can be found on the attached survey sheets.

In looking at organizations as diverse as theses there is obviously a broad range of requirements relating to the achievement of accreditation. The majority of these groups have several thousand members and some have been well established professions for a very long time. Only the American Quilters' Society was approximately the same size as the CAPC.

 

While the processes of becoming accredited differs enormously between these organizations, the requirements for maintaining accreditation, through what is widely termed as ContinuingProfessional Development (CPD), falls into two main categories. The principal method, which is also the more traditional approach, requires a set of quantitative inputs such as a number of hours or points acquired through participation in various approved activities. The member must acquire a certain number of these within an 'accreditation period' which is usually either 1, 3 or 5 years.

 

The following information is taken from the Art Therapy Credentials Board and is a list of the type of credits and their values that members receive for different sorts of activities. Other organizations have much more extensive credit systems that include points for viewing work related videos, participating on their own or related professional boards as Officers or in other capacities etc.

 

Candidates must maintain documentation verifying completion of 100 continuing education credits in a five-year period commencing on January 1st of the year immediately following successful completion of the ATCB certification examination.

 

Continuing education credits (CEC's) may be earned for the following activities within the eligible content areas:

* One (1) credit per clock hour for attendance at lectures, workshops, and other eligible educational programs (see Program Eligibility).

* Two (2) credits per clock hour for presenting lectures. workshops, and other eligible educational programs (see Program Eligibility).

* Five (5) credits per published abstract, book review, or video review.

* Ten (10) credits per published article or produced video.

* Ten (10) credits per exhibit in a juried art show (brochure with name required).

* Fifteen (15) credits per semester for teaching or taking a course in Art Therapy (credit for one course title teaching/taking only), graduate or undergraduate level.

* Twenty (20) credits per book chapter or monograph.

* One Hundred (100) credits per published book.The second and more recent approach to Continuous Professional Development is one that looks less at quantitative inputs and more at "structured process of (self-managed) learning from experience...based on identifying needs, planning action, implementation and review". This approach requires members to identify their needs, produce a plan of development and then assess the outcomes. Two of the above organizations, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists combine the two approaches.

 

Discussion:
1. Should the CAPC require evidence of on-going professional activity as a way of maintaining accreditation? In looking at the 12 organizations and a number of others that were not specifically included in this study, each of them required members to fulfill some sort of on-going professional development to indicate that they are active and competent in their field. It is obvious that for the CAPC to be taken seriously as a professional organization a Continuing Professional Development component should be included as part of being accredited.

 

The credit/point system would seem unsuited for use by CAPC. While points could be assigned for certain activities such as publishing, teaching and participation with professional organizations, there are few formal training opportunities available. The system of self-managed learning, where needs are recognized and a learning plan is developed and assessed would seem far more applicable to the CAPC membership. The UKIC is currently considering such a programme. Many institutional conservators currently produce a similar sort of personal learning/assessment plan on a yearly basis.

 

The use of an on-going professional log book in which information about treatments and other professional activities is kept was used by some organizations in conjunction with the development of a learning/assessment plan. This may lend itself to the kind of work undertaken by CAPC members.

 

In some organizations, individual members are chosen at random for more extensive auditing by an assessor. An assessor's audit is also undertaken if there has been a complaint against the member or if the Quality Assurance Committee ( this seemed to be the most common name for the review committees) feels that the information the member has submitted is not adequate.

Obviously any programme developed by CAPC as a volunteer organization, would have to impose the minimal amount of work on those who would do the evaluations. It would seem that if something like this was adopted it might be administered through a sub-committee under the Membership Chair.

 

2. How long should accreditation remain valid? The accreditation periods of the organizations studied were either one, three or five years. It would seem that with a small organization like CAPC a longer period of accreditation would reduce the administrative burden of reviewing the CPD plans. A five year period would seem somewhat too long, especially when planning self-managed learning and assessment so it would seem that an accreditation period of 3 years may be the most useful. Dues would still be paid yearly.

 

3. Should re-accreditation be required in members areas of expertise after a certain number of years? The successful completion of a CPD programme every three years would maintain accreditation and would also help to deal with the problem of people who have moved on to work in other areas of conservation other than that which they were originally accredited in.

Several organizations permitted retired members to maintain accreditation through a "Retired" designation. This meant that they could no longer practice but at the same time were relieved of CPD requirements. If they wanted to come out of retirement they had to attend refresher courses etc. to the satisfaction of the Quality Assurance Committee.

 

4. Should certification be required in other areas that members are involved with? In certain cases where a member has made an extremely wide move from one area of conservation to another, for example where an objects conservator becomes a paintings conservator it would seem that re-accreditation would be necessary, however for the majority of situations the continuing professional development (CPD) plan would serve to support movement into areas beyond that which the member was originally accredited in.

 

In relation to this and after seeing how UKIC has chosen to do accreditation, we have begun to question the utility of accrediting for specialty rather than for conservator or conservation scientist. In an e-mail from Velson Horie who was chair of the group which first looked into accreditation in the UK, " Frequently the medical analogy comes up in conservation - a doctor is a doctor who happens to have particular skills. Same here. We decided that being a "professional" meant being professional about knowing one's limits. Conservation is a very small field and although insiders may think it diverse, the basic principles are the same".

 

If CPD does eventually go ahead, then it would serve the means to ensure that conservators were not practicing outside of their competency. It would also be the means of moving from one specialty to another or adding specialties. If we did decide to go this route, it would probably need to be phased in along with the CPD requirements. Possibly those accredited under the old system would keep their specialty accreditations and only voluntarily (at first?) undertake CPD. One of the organizations reviewed in the study (nurse-midwives) had begun to do CPD this way. One wonders if establishing a two tier system (manditory CPD for new members and voluntary CPD for those previously accepted) may be a receipe for internal problems or a barrier to joining especially in an organization as small as the CAPC.

 

5. When is past experience out of date when submitting a portfolio? In the organizations studied, it was not always clear from the information we had when re-training or upgrading would be required for a candidate wishing to become a member. In general though, it seems that 3-5 years is the range that is permitted before further upgrading is required; nurses have 5 years, message therapists and dental hygienists have 3. Perhaps it should be associated with whatever CPD requirements are established, since CPD will have to show continuing work in the field. Possibly a figure which reflects or is a multiple of the accreditation period - e.g. 6 years if accreditation is valid for 3 years.

Conclusion:

This preliminary study has shown that organizations that provide accreditation also require their membership to participate in some form of continuous professional development (CPD). It would appear that to be taken seriously as a profession the CAPC must implement some sort of CPD programme. The Accreditation Survey forms attached to this report provide a number of options as to how this might be implemented.. Options range from the elaborate to the simple.This is one of the most important issues to effect the CAPC in some time and should be implemented only with the full involvement of the CAPC membership.

 

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