Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the Council on Licensure Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) Annual Education Conference (AEC) in Louisville, Kentucky.
I was joined by more than 400 delegates from around the globe to spend time discussing the latest issues in regulation, accreditation and examinations.
The CLEAR AEC hasn’t been a face-to-face event for three years, so it was fantastic to be in a room with people again after so long.
I’m also a member of CLEAR’s Board of Directors and its Regulatory Agency Administration Committee, which is tasked with identifying and disseminating good practice in how we run our organisations.
My week started with a meeting of the Committee. We had 16 people around the table, from Australia, North America and Europe, tasked with regulating a wide range of professions. Despite this diversity the meeting was a timely reminder that we have much in common.
Across our jurisdictions and professions we heard that many agencies are facing challenges with adapting to new ways of working post-COVID, how the workforces we regulate are changing and how advances in technology continue to change and challenge the way we work.
At the conference itself there was a strong focus on the changes forced upon us by the challenges presented by COVID, the lessons learned from that and what that means for the way we will work in the future.
I was particularly interested to hear from colleagues who run examinations as part of their regulatory work and the issues they faced in moving rapidly from delivering those in person to delivering them remotely – and especially the security and integrity problems they had to overcome. I’m sure this will resonate with many of our higher education providers and my own accreditation colleagues in Australia.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to chair a session on the final day, where my colleagues from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council presented on the challenges of managing overseas clinical placements. It was great to end the conference with a reminder of the fundamental role that education and accreditation play in the regulatory process.
I always find it interesting to attend these sort of events in the USA as colleagues are not only fascinated by how far Australians are prepared to travel, but the national model of healthcare regulation in Australia. Our American colleagues largely have to deal with 50 state-based approaches and a national approach is something they are keen to better understand.
I also fielded numerous questions about how many dangerous snakes and spiders I encounter daily in Australia. I fear that people were somewhat disappointed by my revelation that my bigger challenges lie with traffic congestion in Melbourne’s suburbs and overcrowding on the train to work.
Around the many and varied conference sessions I had the chance to be interviewed in The Registrar podcast, which aims to put a human face to those involved in regulatory work. It was lovely to do that, but Daniel who runs the podcast was sneaky enough to put me on the spot and asked me to tell him a joke to show that regulators can be funny people. You’ll have to listen in if you want to hear what I came up with!
One of the things I love about attending CLEAR’s AEC is that the organisers always try to provide the conference delegates with a taste of the city they are visiting. As well as arranging a cheeky out-of-hours trip to a local bourbon distillery we were treated mid-conference to a Taste of Kentucky lunch where I had an opportunity to sample my first “hot brown”, “burgoo” and “derby pie”. All delicious, but it was hard work trying to stay awake that afternoon and not slip into a food coma.
While I got through a lot in a week I finished up feeling energised by the opportunity to spend so much quality time with colleagues after the last two and a half years have made that all but impossible.
By the final day I was definitely losing my voice from simply having spent too much time talking. As my North American colleagues were quick to point out, the long flight home gave me ample opportunity to rest that up!
Michael Carpenter, APAC CEO