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Preventive medical regulation: NCMB’s innovative education program seeks to keep licensees out of trouble

The North Carolina Medical Board has been working on an innovative program that hopes to change how the next generation of physicians and PAs think about medical regulation. This statewide initiative began in 2019, when NCMB launched a pilot project in collaboration with Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine to teach about ethics and professionalism through the work of the medical board.

Students participate in a mock disciplinary committee experience that puts each of them in the role of medical board Disciplinary Committee member. Participants discuss and debate fictitious, but true-to-life, case studies that explore issues such as crossing professional boundaries, burnout, licensee substance use and mental health issues, and inappropriate use of social media. The course, which NCMB has dubbed the Regulatory Immersion Series or RImS, ends with a vote on a proposed resolution to each of the cases. In pre- and post-session surveys, the students have stated that they are connecting with the material and leave the lecture hall more likely to reach out to their medical board if questions or concerns arise over the course of their careers. Learn more by listening to a recent podcast episode on the program.

Since RImS was introduced in November 2019, NCMB has presented – or is scheduled to present – at three of North Carolina’s five medical schools and nine of the state’s 11 PA training programs. Our goal is to present RImS at every medical school and PA program in North Carolina once a year going forward (a milestone we expect to reach in 2023).
We believe that this work could result in a fundamental shift in the way medical professionals understand the intersection of medical regulation with medical practice. We are aiming for a future where medical professionals view the Board as a resource to help avoid unprofessional or unethical conduct rather than as the enforcer that comes in once misconduct occurs. It is our hope and expectation that heightened awareness and insight will help NC-trained physicians and PAs avoid many problems that can lead to regulatory action.

National leaders in medical regulation have taken note of NCMB’s approach. A delegation of Board Members and staff presented to the national conference of state Medical Boards this Spring, sharing the RImS approach with other state medical boards. We hope to see other states develop similar educational programs for students and medical professionals in their jurisdictions.

So, what is next for RImS?

In the short term, we will continue to work towards our goal of reaching all medical school and PA programs in North Carolina. NCMB is also starting to test the RImS curriculum with the general licensee population. We believe clinicians at all stages of their careers can benefit from a better understanding of the medical board disciplinary process and a heightened sense of how everyday choices can have real and often unanticipated consequences. NCMB’s mission is to “protect the people of North Carolina, and the integrity of the medical profession, through just and vigilant licensing and regulation”. Developing education and training that may prevent troublesome behavior before it happens harmonizes well with this worthy mission.

Be well.

Editor's note: Intrigued? Learn more about RImS by listening to a recent podcast episode on the program.