Ascension Requires All Medical Directors To Become CMDs

February 17, 2022


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St. Louis-based Ascension Living, a mission-driven senior care and living provider with 28 skilled nursing facility medical directors across 11 states and Washington, DC, now requires all community medical directors to be certified through ABPLM’s Certified Medical Director (CMD) program within three years of signing a medical director agreement. Currently, approximately 5-10% of the organization’s medical directors have CMD certification. “We have seen how long-term care national physician leading voices advocate strongly for endorsing the CMD certification for all skilled nursing facility medical directors as a quality standard of medical and leadership role competency,” says Rafael Bloise, MD, MA, MBA, FACP, FAAHPM, Ascension Living’s chief medical officer. “Our expectations are clearly defined—embrace a high performance and reliable accountability culture to serve our communities with high-quality care.”

Dr. Bloise points to California, which recently passed a law requiring all medical directors to have specific education consistent with what is provided in AMDA’s Core Curriculum, as “a recent example of how AMDA's leading national voices support the state's standard certification for medical directors and skilled nursing facilities.” He further notes, “I also believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us immense opportunities to improve high-quality care in domains such as infection and prevention control, quality and safety standards, public health, and proactive leadership.”

He also says, “Based on what I saw during the pandemic, I agree with AMDA’s position on the need for SNFs to improve 24-hour physician coverage, enhance infection control surveillance, and remove constraints in providing high-quality care and services for residents during a respiratory outbreak.”

This important and cutting-edge move by Ascension Living evolved over time and involved thought leaders and key decision-makers. “We formed a new national medical director steering committee, and we gathered their advice and support. Those results clearly identified a desire for further education,” Dr. Bloise says. “We are living in the knowledge economy. We, as physicians, are trained with absolute rigor to be continuous learners and to reframe our scientific minds and clinical knowledge to provide the best evidence-based standard of care.”

Medical board certifications and physicians' ongoing education matter greatly to address gaps in knowledge, medical misinformation, peer-to-peer trust, and high-quality and safety standards for our residents and patients, Dr. Bloise observes. “Just look how much health care has dramatically changed over the last two years or so. This is a testament to why we need to be devoted to seeking endorsed national medical certification standards among peers,” he notes. “It further validates our professional identity and our medical standing among other specialties. In the same vein, this is a formal way to differentiate nursing home medical directors as leaders and top clinicians committed and engaged with their responsibilities and the communities' necessities.”

The CMD certification offers a comprehensive knowledge-based curriculum to physician leaders in becoming key clinical and organizational influencers to improve safety and quality outcomes, serve as resident and family welfare advocates, enhance communication standards, and impact regulatory industry applicable laws and compliance information that are foundational and critical for senior communities' survival. Dr. Bloise notes, “We enable choices that focus on relationships and honoring what matters the most. To be successful in the communities we serve, we need to ensure we empower care teams with a strong culture of high-performing physician leaders and constantly engaged team players.”

Looking to the future, Dr. Bloise says, “The newer generation of physician leaders is more engaged with social media, health equity advancement, general policy advocacy discourse, the knowledge economy, and what matters for patient/resident care while supporting caregivers.” The CMD certification, he suggests, “increases the standing necessary to be distinguished among your peers related to quality and safety outcomes core knowledge. This could also reduce the practitioner feeling siloed without formal credential support.”

Dr. Bloise firmly believes in the value of medical director certification. He says, “We have both a responsibility and opportunity to differentiate ourselves, setting the leadership and clinical bar higher to serve our communities with respect and knowledge to improve quality and safety outcomes, thus honoring comfort and choice to our patients and residents by pursuing the CMD certification.”

Learn more about the Core Curriculum and CMD certification.