For those who intend to go beyond your initial training, there are many options to consider in becoming a reproductive health provider. Consider opportunities to develop and maintain your skills, knowledge, and leadership, both during and after training. Contacts can be identified through the help of your mentors or existing national networks.
BUILDING A STRONG KNOWLEDGE BASE
To develop expertise and keep up with current evidence, consider:
- Signing up with a national listserv (such as STFM Access Listserv) to participate in ongoing discussions — membership requires referral by a current participant for security reasons.
- Completing supplementary readings suggested in each Workbook Chapter
- Staying abreast of medical journals such as Contraception, Green Journal, Journal Watch Women’s Health or International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
- Attending one of these annual reproductive health conferences:
GAINING AND MAINTAINING CLINICAL COMPETENCY
Studies show that both training availability and procedural volume are correlated with future abortion provision, regardless of previous intention to provide (Turk 2014, Goodman 2013, Steinauer 2008).
The easiest time to gain procedural experience and advanced training is during professional pre-service training (i.e. residency or nursing program), when both credentialing and malpractice can be covered under interagency agreements between your training program and a high-volume clinical site. The procedure number to achieve confidence will vary between individuals, by comfort level, and exposure to more complex cases. Each skill can be delineated into clear steps with observable competencies for learners and for trainers-in-training (Cappiello 2016). Your reproductive health faculty can help you estimate what it will take to achieve competency in the services you hope to provide.
It is also of importance to consider where you will have a receptive environment before investing heavily in training, as the skill is lost if not immediately applied in an ongoing way.
Important aspects of clinical competence include patient comfort and rapport, procedural completeness, speed, and timely ability to identify problems (Levi 2012). Advanced skills include complication management, diagnostic and intra-operative ultrasound, and procedures with advancing gestational age.
Due to the limited training opportunities, skill maintenance and re-training have been significant challenges in most regions of the country. The competition may be greater in urban coastal areas where there are more providers. Clinics in provider shortage areas may be more willing to help with credentialing and malpractice, but back-up and security issues may be more challenging. In either case, persistence is usually essential. For more information on training outside of your program’s standard curriculum or after graduation, see Organizational Resources: Training and Employment Section below.
MENTORING AND BECOMING A MENTOR
Tap every opportunity for receiving mentorship and serving as a mentor during and after your training. As you near completion of your professional training, connect with the larger community of reproductive health providers.
- Ask faculty to put you in contact with providers where you are going, and to serve as a reference.
- Use the chapter questions to stimulate ideas for practice opportunities and interview strategies.
- Mentor a student or trainee by helping fill in gaps in training at their school or program, or develop a project related to reproductive health.