ACC Releases CV Competencies for Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistants


The document, which includes 11 clinical competencies for NPs and PAs, is the first of its kind from the American College of Cardiology.

nurses and doctors

For the first time in the organization’s history, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) has released a set of clinical competencies designed to assist nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians assistants (PAs) working in general cardiovascular medicine and cardiovascular medicine subspecialty areas.

Endorsed by more than a dozen organizations including the American Heart Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and American Academy of Physician Assistants, the “2020 Clinical Competencies for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in Adult Cardiovascular Medicine,” encompass competencies related to medical knowledge, patient care, and procedural skill related to 11 specific clinical areas.

"Model cardiovascular care teams include NPs and PAs as integral members to manage and treat patients," said George P. Rodgers, MD, FACC, chair of the clinical competency statement, in a statement. "Through clinical competencies we are promoting enhanced collaborative, high-quality and patient-centered care teams. The goal is for NPs and PAs to practice at their highest levels of education, training and experience to provide patients with optimal care."

In the interest of furthering efforts to improve the state of cardiovascular health in the US and to encourage greater collaboration between physicians other cardiovascular team members in the care of patients, the ACC developed a writing committee that addressed more than 12,000 comments from cardiologists, NPs, and PAs on the topic. According to the ACC, the main goal of the document is to provide a framework to aid in coordination educational initiatives and clinical competencies that improve the overall delivery of care to patients.

The writing committee included 15 members and was guided by a steering committee—led by Rodgers—that was comprised of 6 other members including co-chairs Dorothy Pearson, PA-C, and Jane Linderbaum, MD, CNP-BC. The ACC Competency Management Committee oversaw the development of the competency statement.

The clinical competencies included 11 specific competencies aimed at improving overall care. These competencies were related to core competencies for cardiovascular NPs and PAs, acute coronary syndromes, adult congenital heart disease, ambulatory and consultative care, arrhythmias and electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease prevention, critical care, heart failure, pericardial disease, stable ischemic heart disease, valvular heart disease, and vascular medicine competencies. With the exception of the first core competency, the remaining 10 include a distinction for whether they apply to all cardiovascular NPs and PAs or select cardiovascular NPs and PAs based on practice focus.

In addition to the organizations mentioned before, the document has received the endorsement of the Heart Rhythm Society, Physician Assistant Education Association, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioners Faculties.

"This document assists NPs and PAs in identifying learning needs and opportunities for professional growth, creates a foundation for writing competency-based education curriculum, and assists NPs and PAs in transitioning from one practice type in cardiovascular medicine to another," said Pearson, in the aforementioned statement.

This document, “2020 Clinical Competencies for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in Adult Cardiovascular Medicine,” is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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