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A new model of medical education

Queen’s University to lead the way in establishing Competency-Based Medical Education framework.

Queen’s University School of Medicine announced Tuesday that it will play a leading role in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s initiative to transform specialty education from a time-based system to a competency-based medical education system.

A Queen's medical resident takes part in a practical skills training session. The Competency-Based Medical Education program uses more frequent testing and skill-based, as opposed to time-based, measurements for progression. (Photo credit: Coady Nickerson)

Under this new model, residents are promoted once they have demonstrated competency in a given field, rather than on a set timeline. As of July 2017, all incoming Queen’s residents will start their training using a competency-based medical education (CBME) model, making Queen’s the first medical program to complete the transition to the new model.

“One of the pillars of our strategic plan is to advance new ways of training,” says Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s.  “As such, the opportunity to help lead in a fundamental transformation of how we prepare the specialists of the future, is not only exciting, but exactly what we said we would do as part of our planning process.”

In addition to skills-based promotion, the CBME training model also calls for more frequent and meaningful assessments, ensuring that competent residents will move through training in a more individualized and efficient manner, saving valuable resources and promoting excellence in their paths to independent practice.

“Queen’s institutional approach captures the hearts and minds of our entire medical school by engaging all of our educational leaders and faculty at once,” explains Damon Dagnone, Faculty Lead for CBME at Queen’s. “We began working with our teaching hospitals on a centralized approach over 18 months ago, engaging our faculty, resident trainees, the Royal College, patients and their families, and other Canadian medical schools along the way. This is a journey of discovery we are all taking together.”

The Royal College mapped out a multi-year transition for all residency programs in Canada in 2014. However, in consultation with the Royal College, Queen’s University’s School of Medicine took on a leadership role by designing and implementing a parallel accelerated path to CBME, making a commitment that all incoming Queen’s residents will start their training using a CBME-based model by July 2017.

The university’s application to accelerate the transition was approved by the Royal College this past November.

“Here at Queen’s we have the extraordinary educational leadership to accomplish this, in addition to an incredibly dedicated teaching faculty who are universally committed to the best education for our residents. We all share the same goal, and that is to graduate specialists who are more skilled and more knowledgeable than we might have ever imagined. That’s our goal, and that is why I am so excited about our CBME initiative,” says Dr. Reznick.