APEGGA is proceeding with a system of proactive reviews of the practices of individual members and permit holders. This article deals with three key questions: What is a Practice Review? How are Practice Reviews conducted? Why are Practice Reviews conducted?
During their study several years ago of APEGGA's permit system, members of the Permit to Practice Task Force were concerned about more effective monitoring of unsatisfactory professional practice. One of their recommendations approved by Council in June 1995 was, "that a program of proactive random Practice Reviews be initiated by the Practice Review Board" (PRB). As a result, a Practice Review Manual and implementation program aimed at both individual members and permit holders were developed by the PRB and approved by Council in September 1996, with a view to having the program begin early in 1997.
APEGGA's Practice Review Board, for many years, has had the legislative authority, with the approval of Council, to conduct practice reviews of APEGGA members. Traditionally, the board has conducted two or three reviews per year on a reactive basis usually on referral from the discipline or appeal process.
Under the new proactive program, 15 practice reviews will be conducted this year, 30 in 1998, 75 in 1999, 125 in year 2000 and reaching 200 by 2001. Cases for review will be randomly selected from areas such as: trends in the investigate/discipline process, membership reinstatements and known high-risk areas.
An actual practice review is a confidential, multi-stage process with the number and sequence of stages dependent upon the circumstances. The actual process is depicted in the chart below.
Upon receipt and return of the completed questionnaire by the member selected, a general reviewer is appointed and a general review conducted. The general reviewer must:
- Be registered and in good standing with APEGGA.
- Not have a conflict of interest.
- Have a minimum of 20 years experience as a professional engineer, geologist or geophysicist.
- Not be a current or a past employee of the same firm that employs the member being reviewed.
A general review normally takes two-to-three hours and is conducted at the members place of business. The site visit starts with a discussion of the practice review process, followed by a review of the questionnaire and documentation completed by the member. The general reviewer will verify the member's scope of practice and evaluate his or her qualifications, experience, projects and products relative to their scope. The criteria for evaluation will be based on APEGGA's Guideline for Professional Practice.
Should the general reviewer conclude that a technical review is required, a technical reviewer would be appointed and a technical review conducted.
Technical reviewers shall be:
- Qualified in the field in which they are conducting the review;
- Drawn from the ranks of experienced members or licensees who are involved on a regular basis in the areas of expertise of the member being reviewed; and
- Must have a minimum of 10 years of relevant experience in the specific discipline being reviewed.
Upon completion of the review, a report will be submitted to the PRB recommending one or more of the following actions:
- The member may be guilty of unskilled practice or unprofessional conduct and the case is referred to the Investigative Committee.
- The member is found to be in general compliance with the acceptable practice standards, and the case is closed.
- The member is found to require modification in the way his or her practice is conducted. Recommendations for improvement in specific areas are made and a follow-up review is required.
Should a follow-up review be required, it shall be conducted by the reviewer or other appointed members of the PRB to determine if the recommendations made are being implemented.
Based on the outcome of the follow-up review, there could be several outcomes:
- The recommendations of the PRB have been satisfactorily implemented and no further action is required. The case is closed.
- The member is found not to have implemented the recommendations of the PRB and a notice of further investigations is issued to the member with the possibility of a formal hearing.
The primary purpose of the practice review process is to conduct random practice reviews in problematic and high risk areas. By using qualified experienced reviewers, a mechanism will be provided for members to assess and improve their overall performance by utilizing the expertise of the reviewer and will help reduce potentially more serious problems by identifying and correcting unacceptable practices. The practice review program is not meant to be intimidating. It is hoped that the program will enhance the credibility and value of the professions to both members and the public.
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