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PLoS One. 2016 Dec 9;11(12):e0166252. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166252. eCollection 2016.

A Competency Model for Clinical Physicians in China: A Cross-Sectional Survey.

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School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China.
Research Center for Medical Education, China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China.
Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Shengjing Hospital, China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China.



Around the world, regulatory bodies have taken the lead in determining the competencies required to become a physician. As a first step in addressing this project, it was decided to develop a set of core competencies that were unique to China and that might serve as a basis for medical education. The purpose of this paper was to construct a competency model for clinical physicians in China.


Data was collected using a cross-sectional survey of 6247 clinicians from seven administrative regions (31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) in China. The total sample was randomly divided into two sub-samples, an initial sample (Sample 1) and a replication sample (Sample 2). Independent exploratory factor analysis was conducted in each sample and the results were compared to determine the stability. After that the confirmatory factor analysis was used to ascertain the competency model for physicians. The reliability, convergent and discriminant validity of competency-based instrument were also examined.


76 items with 8 dimensions were identified, accounting for 68.41% of the construct's total variance in the initial sample and 67.47% in the replication sample. For the two samples, the overall scale reliability (Cronbach's alpha) was both 0.985 with dimensions from 0.905 to 0.954 for the initial sample and from 0.902 to 0.955 for the replication sample after deleting the items. In confirmatory factor analysis, the result showed that all items had acceptable goodness of fit index. RMSEA and SRMR were less than 0.08 (RMSEA = 0.046, SRMR = 0.040), while GFI, NFI, IFI, and CFI were higher than 0.9 (GFI = 0.905, NFI = 0.903, IFI = 0.909, CFI = 0.909), leading to acceptable construct validity. All construct reliability values of the factors were higher than 0.70, and all average variance extracted values exceeded 0.50. Thus, we considered the reliability and validity of the 8 dimensions were acceptable.


The instrument was shown to be both valid and reliable for measuring clinical physicians' competency in China. The results of the competency-based instrument can be used by ministry of health and administrators of hospitals to assess physicians' competencies, encourage and guide them to modify their behaviors according to the evaluation criteria, and also cultivate physicians with strong clinical practice, innovation and independent scientific research ability. Through these measurements and understandings, the overall level of clinical physicians will be increased in China.

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