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Acad Med. 2016 May;91(5):618-20. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001049.

Transforming Medical Education: Is Competency-Based Medical Education the Right Approach?

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M.E. Whitcomb is a medical education consultant, Phoenix, Arizona.


There is growing recognition within the medical education community that medical education in this country needs to be changed to better prepare doctors for the challenges they will face in providing their patients high-quality medical care. A competency-based medical education (CBME) approach was endorsed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties approximately 15 years ago, and a self-designated group-the International Competency-Based Medical Education (ICBME) Collaborators-is now calling on members of the medical education community to join them in their effort to establish CBME as the approach to be used in transforming medical education, not only in the United States but also around the world.In response to an article in this issue by a group of ICBME Collaborators, the author argues that more evidence about the effectiveness of CBME is needed before a global shift to this approach is undertaken. It is time for major organizations and foundations that are committed to improving medical education to step forward and take the lead in partnering with the medical education community to conduct a critical evaluation of CBME. In addition, maintenance of certification, relicensure, and continuing medical education programs should be evaluated for their effectiveness in ensuring that physicians are clinically competent not only at the beginning of their career but also until the end.

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