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Acad Emerg Med. 2013 Jul;20(7):730-5. doi: 10.1111/acem.12166.

The emergency medicine milestones: a validation study.

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  • 1American Board of Emergency Medicine, East Lansing, MI, USA.



The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Board of Medical Specialties sought to define milestones for skill and knowledge acquisition during residency training. Milestones are significant objective observable events. The milestones are listed within a structure that is derived from the ACGME general competencies. Major groups of milestones are called "subcompetencies." The original 24 subcompetencies containing 255 milestones for emergency medicine (EM) were developed through a multiorganizational group representing most EM stakeholder groups. To assure that the milestones reflected EM resident progress throughout training, the EM Milestones Working Group (EM MWG) sought to validate the individual milestones.


A computer-based survey was sent to all EM residency programs. The survey period began on April 30, 2012, and concluded on May 15, 2012. Respondents were asked to assign each milestone to a specific level of skill or knowledge acquisition. These levels ranged from a beginning resident to an accomplished clinician. There were two different forms that divided the milestones into two groups of 12 subcompetencies each. Surveys were randomly assigned to programs.


There were five respondents (the program director and four key faculty) requested from each of the 159 residences. There were responses from 96 programs (60.4%). Of the 795 survey recipients, 28 were excluded due to prior exposure to the EM milestones. Of the remaining 767 potential respondents, 281 completed the survey (36.6%) within a 16-day period. Based on the survey results, the working group adjusted the milestones in the following ways: one entire subcompetency (teaching) was eliminated, six new milestones were created, 34 milestones were eliminated, 26 milestones were reassigned to a lower level score, and 20 were reassigned to a higher level. Nineteen milestones were edited to provide greater clarity. The final result was 227 discrete milestones among 23 subcompetencies.


The EM milestones were validated through a milestone assignment process using a computer-based survey completed by program directors and key faculty. Milestones were revised in accordance with the results to better align assignment within each performance level.

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