DENVER--Today, the research journal Obesity published the study "Development of Obesity Competencies for Medical Education: A Report from the Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative" which outlines the first set of obesity-focused competencies to improve obesity medicine education for physicians and advanced healthcare providers. The 32 competencies were developed by The Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative (OMEC), an intersociety initiative spearheaded by the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), The Obesity Society (TOS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Until now, many early career level healthcare professionals did not have an objective, measurable method for evaluating and improving the quality of obesity-related education and training. The ultimate goal of these new competencies is to introduce obesity medicine education early and ensure physicians and healthcare professionals are adequately equipped to treat obesity when they begin their medical careers.
"The launch of the OMEC competencies represents the essential step forward in helping our medical schools, residency/fellowship programs, advanced practitioner training programs, and currently practicing physicians implement, assess, and improve their understanding of the disease of obesity and their ability to deliver excellent obesity care," said Deborah Bade Horn, DO, MPH, MFOMA, past President of the OMA and co-chair for OMEC. "These obesity-focused competencies will create a new generation of providers that demonstrate excellence in the management of the disease of obesity."
The Collaborative used the Six Core Domain Competencies of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education as a guiding framework to develop the competencies. The core domains used and the number of competencies for each domain include Practice-Based Learning and Improvement (5); Patient Care and Procedural Skills (5); System-Based Practice (4); Medical Knowledge (13); Interpersonal and Communication Skills (3); and Professionalism (2) for a total of 32 competencies.
The competencies can be applied to the assessment of learners within a training program, or assessment of existing or planned curricula. They can also be used in the assessment of non-training educational environments, like hospital and healthcare networks to improve the obesity treatment knowledge levels of practicing physicians.
"For years, obesity has been misunderstood," said Wendy Scinta, MD, MS, FOMA, President of the OMA. "The goal of our multi-disciplinary and multi-society effort is to remove bias and ensure obesity is appropriately understood as a disease by healthcare professionals in medical school, residencies, fellowships and beyond. These competencies set the bar for obesity education and will immensely benefit patients with obesity and their providers."
Formed in March 2016, the OMEC steering committee consisting of OMA, TOS and ASMBS members joined representatives from 12 additional organizations to form working groups. Group members collaborated to develop the competencies with specific measurement benchmarks to facilitate performance assessment. The draft competencies, along with a vetting survey, were sent out to 19 related organizations for external review. A final document of the competencies and associated benchmarks were completed in early 2019; since finalization, the competencies have been endorsed by 20 U.S. and global professional societies and organizations.
"Obesity is one of the most pressing medical problems of the twenty-first century, since it is linked to the development of heart disease, diabetes and cancer among multiple other health conditions," said Ethan Lazarus, MD, FOMA, Vice President of the OMA. "In spite of this, education regarding obesity is minimal in medical provider training programs, a finding confirmed by a 2016 American Medical Association report which found that obesity training is inconsistent and incomprehensive. OMEC represents a big step forward in filling these significant educational gaps and is provided as a free tool that can be used at all levels of medical education."