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Featured BOC Approved Provider: The Defense Health Agency, J-7, Continuing Education Program Office

The BOC regularly features BOC Approved Providers for notable efforts to enhance its continuing education programs for Athletic Trainers (ATs). Featured organizations follow the guidelines set forth by the BOC. The Federal Government Administrator at United States Department of Defense Dr. Lolita ODonnell, PhD, RN shares her organization’s experience as a Joint Accreditation (JA) provider. As a JA provider, organizations have the opportunity to provide continuing education (CE) activities for multiple professions through a single, unified application process, fee structure and set of accreditation standards without needing to obtain separate accreditations. JA is the first and only process in the world offering this benefit.The JA has expanded its CE reach to include the athletic training profession.


Can you tell us a little more about your organization and your work in providing continuing education to health care providers and Athletic Trainers?


The Defense Health Agency, J-7, Continuing Education Program Office (DHA, J-7, CEPO) is the accredited CE/continuing medical education (CME) provider for health care professionals who support/care for U.S. active duty service members, reservists, military veterans and their families. DHA, J-7, CEPO, as a JA provider offers CE/CME credit for educational activities for the following health professions: Athletic Trainers (ATs), physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, optometrists, social workers, psychologists, dental professionals and dietetic professionals.

The DHA, J-7, CEPO is also accredited with the American Health Information Management Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Speech Language Hearing Association, Council on Professional Standards for Kinesiotherapy, Commission of Case Manager Certification and National Board for Certified Counselors. Adding ATs to our portfolio allows us to expand our support of the Military Health System (MHS). It is our responsibility to provide continuous education opportunities to the health care providers who help service members remain ready to defend our country. ATs are a critical piece in making sure troops are healthy and available for combat at a moment’s notice. We are thrilled that we can provide ATs CE opportunities to allow them to develop resilience in our military members.


Why does your organization choose to be a JA provider?

The DHA new priorities identified in the DHA Fiscal Year 2021 Campaign Plan were: Great Outcomes, Ready Medical Force, Satisfied Patients and Fulfilled Staff. Being a JA provider allows organizations under DHA to submit one application when seeking accreditation for up to nine disciplines from our office. This directly aligns with our goal to serve the Military Health System (MHS) and its multitude of professionals. We are the largest health care entity in the world. It makes sense that we would want to emphasize collaboration between health care teams with JA being the leading model for interprofessional collaborative practice.

How does being a JA provider help you attract participants to your course?


The primary focus of CE medical education offerings within the Department of Defense was historically CME and continuing nursing education (CNE), thus our JA status allows us to more fully support the health care providers within the MHS. Providers are attracted to how we streamlined awarding CE credit and they are happy to know with one application they can cover multiple disciplines including, but not limited to, dentistry, social work and athletic training. Furthermore, we feature evidence based practices and conduct meaningful dialog with them to help solve problems they may face in the field.

How do you design your curriculum to help participants improve outcomes for the patients they serve?


As members of a governmental organization, all of our work is mandated congressionally. Our leadership plays a significant role in guiding congress on what our annual priorities should be and are then reflected in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For each of the themes the DHA poses each year, we hold “Clinical Community Speaker Series” where we dive into how we propose to focus on each of those key initiatives. Between reviewing the NDAA and consulting the health care themes set forth by the DHA, we are able to make informed decisions when it comes to designing our curriculum. Recently we have been able to highlight Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) produced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. By targeting use of CPGs within our curriculum, we are able to encourage standardization of care provided by health care professionals within the MHS. Through course evaluations, our learners are able to indicate if they anticipate changing any of their health care practices and if so, how they will apply this knowledge to their current practices.

What advice do you have for organizations looking to be on the cutting edge and maintain compliance, as they develop education programs?


It is essential that a conscious effort is made to keep up with evolving technology. Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, the team has been adapting to changes through continual assessment of lessons learned in order to optimize support. Our organization was able to seamlessly adapt to hosting virtual events because of the clear standard operating procedures that have been utilized throughout the years. It is also imperative that organizations do continual evaluations of their education programs. Make sure that you engage in interprofessional collaboration and even survey your stakeholders. Each of these best practices will ensure that programs remain timely, relevant and meaningful.

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