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West J Emerg Med. 2017 Jun;18(4):713-720. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2017.3.33409. Epub 2017 May 1.

Academic Primer Series: Key Papers About Competency-Based Medical Education.

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Geisinger Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Danville, Pennsylvania.
McMaster University, Department of Medicine, Division of Emergency Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Rush University Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
University of New Mexico, Department of Emergency Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
University of California San Francisco, Department of Emergency Medicine, San Francisco, California.
Drexel University College of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



Competency-based medical education (CBME) presents a paradigm shift in medical training. This outcome-based education movement has triggered substantive changes across the globe. Since this transition is only beginning, many faculty members may not have experience with CBME nor a solid foundation in the grounding literature. We identify and summarize key papers to help faculty members learn more about CBME.


Based on the online discussions of the 2016-2017 ALiEM Faculty Incubator program, a series of papers on the topic of CBME was developed. Augmenting this list with suggestions by a guest expert and by an open call on Twitter for other important papers, we were able to generate a list of 21 papers in total. Subsequently, we used a modified Delphi study methodology to narrow the list to key papers that describe the importance and significance for educators interested in learning about CBME. To determine the most impactful papers, the mixed junior and senior faculty authorship group used three-round voting methodology based upon the Delphi method.


Summaries of the five most highly rated papers on the topic of CBME, as determined by this modified Delphi approach, are presented in this paper. Major themes include a definition of core CBME themes, CBME principles to consider in the design of curricula, a history of the development of the CBME movement, and a rationale for changes to accreditation with CBME. The application of the study findings to junior faculty and faculty developers is discussed.


We present five key papers on CBME that junior faculty members and faculty experts identified as essential to faculty development. These papers are a mix of foundational and explanatory papers that may provide a basis from which junior faculty members may build upon as they help to implement CBME programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, funding sources and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias. No author has professional or financial relationships with any companies that are relevant to this study. There are no conflicts of interest or sources of funding to declare.

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