I've been doing a lot of thinking about New Jersey's new mandatory cultural competency training, and about mandatory CME in general. While I laud the intent to improve healthcare workers' cultural competency, how on earth are we supposed to know if it actually will do anything to reduce the disparity in healthcare given to minorities? As far as I can tell, no one conducted a needs assessment on N.J. docs to see where they fall in the care spectrum with their minority patients. And if it doesn't result in improved patient health, it does nothing but create a new CME market and a few kudos the politicians can cash in come election time.
I've come to the conclusion that, if we really are serious about doing something about this problem (or any other healthcare-related problem), any laws that are passed should have to also mandate outcomes measures. Say, the law would be good for X number of years, at which time healthcare workers' changed behavior would be measured, and changes in their patient population would be measured. Then look at the results to see if it made any difference to the people the law supposedly was enacted to help. If it did, then perhaps devise some sort of test existing docs would have to study for and take every X number of years to ensure their knowledge in that area is up to date; if they pass, they don't need to take the CME. New docs would still have to learn the ropes for licensure, then go on the same type of system.
If it didn't help in some concrete way, the law becomes invalid and the CME would no longer be mandated. Or the CME being required would have to be improved, then revalidated through outcomes measurement. I mean, it seems silly to require something if it doesn't work, doesn't it? Or to require something and then not measure whether it's effective or not? That's politics, not education, IMHO. What do you all think?