Let’s talk about professional practice gaps. Let’s talk about Criterion 2: that providers must identify or understand the needs that underlie professional practice gaps.
Professional practice gaps are the description of a problem in practice — in research practice, clinical practice, educational practice, administrative practice. Let’s talk about clinical practice in this example: that the group of physicians, the community of physicians, the population of physicians, globally, the physicians or down at the individual level, the physicians — there’s a problem where they’re not doing everything that they could, everything that they do they’re not doing right, everything that they’re doing could be improved. Some of them don’t have a strategy to approach a certain problem. Most of them don’t have a strategy to approach a certain problem. Those are professional practice gaps.
We come to those, to understand those gaps from data and information that we collect, that we seek. We could look at a list of articles that describe case studies of a certain clinical problem. And from that, the provider could deduce that the most common reason for missing this diagnosis is the lack of knowledge of a certain pathophysiology and a lack of strategy for certain intervention under certain clinical situations. That’s the professional practice gap: the lack of understanding, the lack of knowledge, and the lack of strategy to intervene.
Our physicians, or the physicians of America, don’t have the knowledge of this certain disease entity and they don’t have strategies to intervene when they see this clinical scenario. That’s the professional practice gap. The source of the information, the wisdom of that gap, came from people reading a series of articles or looking at a set of data. It’s the same that a guideline isn’t a professional practice gap. The professional practice gap is that this guideline was published last week; no one has seen it and no one knows how to manage patients using this clinical guideline. That’s the professional practice gap.
One provider said to us: Well, what if we give you a graph of data? And we said back: That graph is the source of the information from which you deduce what the professional practice gap is. You give us the graph, but you also write down in a paragraph or two sentences: The physicians of the world do not know how to do this intervention safely across all nations in the absence of First World operating rooms. That’s a professional practice gap. And that could be what someone tries to address.
So the message is — the professional practice gap is the problem or issue that the physician knows she has and says to you, or that you deduce and say back to them: This is what we’re going to try to address.
So when you ask learners: What would you like us to teach about next time? And they give you a list — that’s not a description of professional practice gaps. That’s a list of topics. What you have to ask them is: How does that relate to a problem in your practice? Or ask them straight up: What problems or issues in your practice would you like our continuing medical education program to try and help you with?