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July 23, 2019

A Skill Worth Learning: Assessment in Graduate Medical Education

The weeklong Developing Faculty Competencies in Assessment course meets at the ACGME offices in Chicago, and includes practical and effective applications of multiple assessment methods and tools; guidance for creating effective assessment programs; and techniques to most effectively use the Milestones and Entrustable Professional Activities for professional development.

Faculty members who teach residents and fellows are at the top of their profession in many ways. They possess, through years of study, work, and talent, a depth of medical knowledge that has allowed them to be entrusted with the clinical education and training of future physicians. Yet effectively assessing the progress of residents and fellows is a skill—a learned skill—for which they may not have been formally prepared as part of their professional career as an educator.

With this in mind, ACGME Chief Research, Milestone Development, and Evaluation Officer Eric Holmboe, MD worked to develop a course that teaches assessment techniques to faculty physicians involved in resident and fellow education. “Competency- and outcomes-based education and the ACGME’s current accreditation model, including the Milestones, have further elevated the need for effective assessment in GME,” Dr. Holmboe says. “We saw that faculty members, program directors, clinical competency committee (CCC) chairs and members, and even post-graduate deans and DIOs have a need to develop assessment skills, but they may not have had the opportunity to learn and practice those skills.”

Dr. Holmboe and others, both inside the ACGME and at learning centers across the country, collaborated and created an intensive but practical and highly interactive course that uses multiple learning approaches, including hands-on simulations, to provide participants with essential approaches and tools for creating successful assessment programs.

How the Course Works
The weeklong Developing Faculty Competencies in Assessment course meets at the ACGME offices in Chicago, and includes practical and effective applications of multiple assessment methods and tools; guidance for creating effective assessment programs; and techniques to most effectively use the Milestones and Entrustable Professional Activities for professional development.

During one morning of the course, participants gather at the Clinical Education Center of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine for simulation exercises on direct observation and feedback that provide real life practice in a safe environment. Said one recent participant, “The simulation lab was one of the few opportunities I have had as senior faculty to receive feedback on my performance. Observing other people giving feedback helped me with real-life strategies for doing this in my own residency.”

The course also provides participants with a road map for developing a system to implement assessment programs at their own institutions. “It’s not enough that we teach just one faculty participant,” says Dr. Holmboe. WWe want to teach those who will be able to set up systems within their institutions, so that this training can be provided to as many people as possible.”

The Need for Additional Courses

The highly interactive nature of the instruction means that each course can accept only 40 participants. So in addition to the Chicago-based courses, regional hub courses have been developed with interested institutions. This arrangement has allowed institutions to regionally offer shorter, two- to three-day courses that teach the essentials of GME assessment to faculty members and others. These regional courses provide more focus on teaching individual assessment skills for frontline faculty members, but program directors, Clinical Competency Committee chairs, and others are all welcome as well.

Key instructors from the ACGME attend at least the first two or three iterations of the courses at each regional site as consultants, allowing the local instructors (all of whom are experienced GME faculty who have attended the six-day ACGME course in Chicago) to develop and refine their course offerings.

Regional courses are currently offered in a variety of locations throughout the United States by a number of institutions: Vanderbilt; UCLA; UT Health San Antonio and Dell School of Medicine Consortium; Yale University; Maine Medical Center; Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Michigan State Osteopathic School of Medicine; Midwestern Osteopathic School of Medicine; Kaiser Permanente Hawaii; and consortiums of institutions in Philadelphia (Sidney Kimmel School of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson, Penn State Hershey, and Geisinger Commonwealth) and the Pacific Northwest (Oregon Health & Science University and University of Washington). Both the Chicago-based and the regional courses are open to faculty members from any institution.

“Assessment training is vital to a healthy GME program, and our ultimate goal is to create opportunities that will allow everyone to become better at all phases of assessment, no matter their location or situation,” says Dr. Holmboe. “Assessment is a learned skill,” he adds. “And it’s worth learning.”

Learn more about the program and upcoming course dates and locations under the “Meetings and Educational Activities” header on the ACGME website.

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