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Acta Cytol. 2000 Nov-Dec;44(6):939-43.

Competency assessment and proficiency testing.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexigton, Kentucky 40536-0084, USA.


Competency assessment is an ongoing, continuous process of monitoring individuals' abilities to perform their specific job functions. A variety of methods are useful in monitoring cytology competency, including rescreening studies, descriptive monitors (abnormality rates), discrepancy rates, workload patterns, competency-based educational programs and programs using unknown slide challenges. The goal of proficiency testing (PT) is to ascertain and assess the ability of individuals beyond the particular items or challenges presented. However, cytology PT faces many challenges for implementation as it cannot duplicate normal working conditions, and there is often no gold standard to define the truth. PT is just one measure of performance and should be considered in conjunction with other quality assessment monitors. There is no consensus on the value or validity of a large-scale regulatory PT program. Any regulatory PT program should be field tested prior to implementation, and the grading system should be scientifically defensible. Scoring of performance on PT should occur in a timely fashion, and there should be an opportunity for educational feedback. The ultimate aim of both competency assessment and PT is to positively affect laboratory procedures and improve the cervical cancer screening process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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