Regulatory bodies have implemented several mechanisms such as admission, continuing education, discipline and professional inspections to guarantee the integrity of their members and earn the public’s trust.
Learning that your workplace will be undergoing a professional inspection may often trigger a sense of anxiety. For example, you might be pressed for time, afraid of being judged, or concerned that you don’t have enough information or that you may fall short of the rules. Whatever the reason may be, workers tend to harbour a negative view of professional inspections. However, they are a core component of regulatory body mandates. The following advice will help ensure your next professional inspection is a success.
What are professional inspections for?
A professional inspection entails the formal evaluation of practices and procedures that a member of a regulatory body must undergo on a regular basis (typically annually) to ensure their integrity and their operational compliance to protect the public.
All regulatory bodies must implement a monitoring system with an inspection committee that will determine, among other things, how many members must be inspected every year, how such inspections will be carried out, and the objectives and evaluation criteria of such an inspection.
The inspection evaluates members’ level of competence, how their files are kept, their ability to exercise sound judgment and reasoning, the environment where their activities are carried out, and their ability to respect the rules and code of ethics. It also helps ensure that members meet the needs of individuals who may benefit from their products or services, that is to say, clients or patients.
There are usually two types of inspections: general and individual.
General inspections are preventive measures that oversee the practice of a profession and are done on a regular annual basis. Individual inspections are carried out retroactively, in response to a complaint or problem regarding a member whose skills have been called into question. In most cases, concrete recommendations will be made to remedy any shortfalls uncovered by the inspection.
Professional inspections are essential for a regulatory body to maintain its credibility and reliability because individuals often choose to collaborate with a member because they are backed by a regulatory authority.
Professional inspections ensure a certain level of transparency between the 46 regulatory bodies across Quebec and the 407,000 members that belong to them. An order’s primary mission is to protect the public.
Inspectors are professionals who practice in the very industry they are monitoring. They must have a minimum number of years of experience, which varies from one order to the next. They have in-depth knowledge of the standards that govern their profession, and they enroll in continuing education to keep them up to date.
Rest assured that just about every worker will be inspected over the course of their career, and inspectors tend to be satisfied by most of their onsite meetings. However, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your professional inspection will be a success.
The following tips and tricks should help you replace your fear of inspections with a sense of confidence.
Think of the inspection as an opportunity to improve
Although a professional inspection can be anxiety-provoking for members of regulatory bodies, these nerves can be offset by adequate preparation. You’ll know what to expect and what criteria the inspector will use to evaluate your workspace. When a member is selected for an inspection, they will receive an email notification and can start to prepare right away.
As soon as you receive such a notice, carefully read the Application Guide regarding the standards of conduct for your regulatory body. This is the first resource you should consult to familiarize yourself with all the rules you should be following.
To ensure all your affairs are in order, refer to the Professional Inspection section of your regulatory body’s website. It will tell you everything you need to know to prepare your professional file, which your inspector will have access to. This file usually includes any books, registers and licenses required to practice your profession. This section should also contain information about how to evaluate the equipment and products you use in the context of your professional activities to guarantee they are in good working order.
This guide should also include a self-evaluation form that will help you become more aware of your practice, analyze it, and make any adjustments necessary before the inspector’s visit. To maximize your efficiency, don’t wait for the inspection notice to make any changes to your work activities! Perform your own self-inspection at least once a year. That way, you can be confident that you already meet the standards expected by the professional inspector when they visit.
When the time comes to make an appointment, your schedule will be considered along with that of the inspector. In many cases, several members who work in the same area or for the same organization will be grouped together to save time and minimize travel. To ensure your inspection is as productive as possible, choose a day that is representative of your regular routine, and schedule it in your typical work environment. Try not to make any changes to your staff to avoid falsifying results. You should also avoid introducing the inspector to any students or interns you may work with. The goal of the professional inspection is to evaluate your skills, not those of anyone you may be training.
By ensuring that the conditions in which the inspection is performed reflect your current and real work context, the inspector will be able to identify actual problems with your practice and propose adequate solutions. As such, no issue will be hidden or amplified.
How is a professional inspection carried out?
Professional inspections typically involve two steps: observation and discussion.
During the observation phase, the inspector will watch you perform different job-related tasks. They may ask you questions about your process, and if applicable, talk to your patients or clients about their experience. During the discussion phase, the inspector will ask you to stop your work so that you can meet in a quiet, private area. Ideally, you should have any important files or documents within reach so that they may be referred to quickly and easily.
The discussion phase is made up of three different steps. The first is the interview. The inspector will ask you some general questions to determine your professional strengths and any weaknesses you might improve upon. Refer to your regulatory body’s website; these questions may already be listed there to help you prepare.
Next, the inspector will share their assessment with you. This part of the discussion will give the inspector a chance to explain their observations and give you a chance to explain your process.
After the inspection is complete, the results will be communicated to you. Delays and methods of transmission may vary from one order to the next, but you can generally expect to receive a preliminary report the day of the inspection, and a complete report within a few weeks.
Receiving the report and adjusting your practice accordingly
The preliminary report may be communicated to you verbally or in writing and will include the inspector’s general observations along with a few recommendations. You can start adapting your practice as soon as you receive it. The final report may either go through the inspection committee or be delivered to you directly, depending on your regulatory body. This report will be more detailed than the preliminary report and will outline concrete examples to justify your results as well as potential solutions to help you remedy any problems highlighted.
In most cases, once all standards are met or as soon as the member has amended any issues identified by implementing concrete solutions, the file will be closed.
If the professional is unable to meet certain standards, the inspector will look at three factors to decide how to proceed: the risk or likelihood that the professional’s practice will have negative consequences; the likelihood that such consequences will transpire; how dire such impacts might be for the public. The nature of such consequences (financial, psychological, or physical) will also be considered, as will their intensity (reversible or irreversible), scope (individual or collective) and duration (short-, medium- or long-term, or permanent).
The results of this deliberation will determine what interventions must be made and if any disciplinary action is necessary. A professional inspector can, for example, ask the member to complete further training or a professional development course, or limit or suspend their right to practice their profession.
Gestisoft: Proud partner of regulatory bodies
Gestisoft experts have been working with regulatory bodies and associations since 1997 and have developed technological tools to facilitate professional inspections based on in depth knowledge of how they are performed. Legio is the preferred tool for professional inspectors since it offers an easy to use integrated solution for time consuming administrative tasks. The solution includes all functions: access to the profession, the register, membership renewal, discipline, investigations, claims and complaints, courtesy, events, elections, the member portal, mass emailing, and more.
Do you represent a regulatory body? Would you like to know how Legio can help your inspectors save time and better serve your members and the public? Would you like to learn more about how this software can meet your administrative needs? Contact Gestisoft today!