Clinician Scholars Program Strengthens Clinical HIV Skills

For more than 25 years, the Midwest AIDS Training + Education Center has educated clinicians who provide care to patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and those at risk for HIV.

For more than 25 years, the Midwest AIDS Training + Education Center (MATEC) has educated clinicians who provide care to patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and those at risk for HIV.

MATEC’s most recent educational effort is the competency-based Clinician Scholars Program (CSP) that aims to prioritize the needs of minority and minority-serving clinicians and their communities.

This is a critical goal because the HIV workforce is in constant flux due to changing treatment paradigms, special population needs, burnout among clinicians, and the aging American health care workforce.

An article published in the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care described CSP as a 1-year curriculum that tailors content for providers with limited HIV care experience. The program is

open to minority or minority-serving health care providers who are licensed to provide care in the Midwest. These professionals must provide direct clinical care services, understand HIV/AIDS fundamentals, and hope to increase their clinical HIV skills.

In CSP’s first 5 years, 74 clinicians from 7 Midwestern states (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri) completed the program. Although the majority of participants are nurses, 16% are clinical pharmacists.

CSP includes 20 hours of HIV care training, 12 hours of clinical preceptorship, and many evaluation activities. After assessing baseline and endpoint clinical knowledge and skills, MATEC found that participants improved significantly in 11 target competencies.

Participants improved most in managing antiretroviral medications, screening and testing for HIV, incorporating prevention into HIV care, understanding risk reduction methods, and describing current HIV care standards.

Previous studies have shown that 40% of health care providers who complete similar programs serve more HIV-infected patients after program completion, and 75% apply what they have learned.

Participants also benefit from ongoing access to mentorship and training, plus sustained engagement in local and statewide HIV care networks.

Although most states face challenges in developing their HIV workforces, other AIDS Education and Training Centers and structured training programs could easily replicate this intensive mentoring program model, the authors reported.