The evolution of medical education

The evolution of medical education

By Phil Gaudreau

June 30, 2017


The team behind competency-based medical education (CBME) at Queen's.

On a weekend when people across the country marked Canada’s 150th birthday, Queen’s University's School of Medicine celebrated the launch of something new in medical education. It’s called competency-based medical education (CBME) and Queen’s University is the first school in North America to implement it across all of its specialty programs for medical residents.

The CBME model was created in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Under this model, this year’s cohort of about 130 residents will be moved to their next rotation once they have demonstrated competency in the clinical tasks and activities expected of them at each stage. Previously, residents usually moved on once they had completed a certain amount of time in a set rotation.

“All the evidence points to using a competency-based approach as the fundamental and logical next step in medical education,” says Damon Dagnone, CBME Lead at Queen’s University. “Along the way, we will continuously study these changes, engage all stakeholders – including patients and families – and embrace co-production and a shared leadership model, use a systems-based approach, and commit to regular and gradual quality improvement. We’ve come so far in just two years, but this is really just the beginning.”

As an important next step, other hospital health care professionals will be able to share their feedback with every resident and their supervisors as part of CBME. The School of Medicine also aims to allow patients and families to contribute to the educational process in the future.

For the residents, this new model promises a rewarding learning experience as they will receive more timely feedback and mentorship from their faculty supervisors and academic advisors. This will help them identify their strengths and weaknesses at every stage. They will also have increased opportunities to pursue personal learning goals and desired areas of excellence.

While the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons has asked all Canadian medical schools to transition their specialty residency training programs to the new model by 2022, Queen’s opted to transition all 29 residency programs at once. The move caps over two years of preparatory work, and was led by an executive team of eight faculty and staff members in the School of Medicine.

“At Queen’s, we are constantly striving to provide our students with the best possible education and so we have made it a fundamental component of our strategy to develop and trial new models of training,” says Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s. “As such, we are very excited by the value of a system of competency-based education and are thrilled to take a national lead by transitioning all of our specialty medicine residency training programs at once; doing it this way gives us the ability to capture the hearts and minds of the entire medical school and I am very proud of what our team has achieved to get us to this point.”

The move to fully implement CBME at Queen’s has already attracted attention around the globe. Both Drs. Reznick and Dagnone have recently presented at multiple conferences, speaking of the mission at Queen’s to develop and test new models of training and to work closely with educational partners.

“On behalf of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, congratulations to Queen’s University on their successful deployment of competency-based medical education,” says Ken Harris, executive director, Office of Specialty Education, RCPSC. “We believe CBME is the future of medical education. This outcomes-based approach incorporates more feedback and ongoing observation of how knowledge is being applied and will contribute to a practice environment where learning itself is integrated into the day-to-day.”

Learn more about CBME at Queen’s. You may also visit the Royal College’s “Competence by Design” project website.

Want to meet a few of our new residents? Check out these short video interviews from their orientation day!

Health Sciences