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What educators could learn from CBME

cover of Medical TeacherIn 2010 the journal Medical Teacher devoted an entire issue to competency based medical education: http://informahealthcare.com/toc/mte/32/8. This issue is well worth reading by any educator in higher education that is interested in competency based education. While the articles are written about medical education, which many in the liberal arts reject as “practical” rather than “theoretical”, and therefore not applicable to undergraduate education, those with more insight will learn how to develop stronger competency based programs, and the value of a competency based program.

Today’s Inside Higher Ed, featured yet another article on the move to competency based education: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/01/23/colleges-pitch-possible-experiments-competency-based-programs. It’s a short article stating that a number of colleges and university are preparing to launch competency based programs. But the list of participating institutions is not one that contains any surprises. These are colleges and universities that are known for non-traditional curriculum. What might surprise some is the list of medical schools moving to competency based programs, and that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, in its 100 year anniversary of the much respected Flexnor Report,  advocated for competency based medical education.  In it’s 2010 report  Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency, the authors’ recommended that medical schools “standardize learning outcomes and assess competencies over time.” and added:  “A focus on learning outcomes and milestones could end the time-based structure of medical school and residency.”

Many medical schools have taken the advice of this report quite seriously, and have been working on converting existing curriculum to a competency based format. The rest of us could do well to learn from what they are doing. It may not all be applicable, but there is much to be learned from their thoughtfulness and efforts.

I highly recommend that those who are interested in Competency Based Education in Higher Education read Medical Teacher’s issue 8 of volume 32.

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