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Med Teach. 2017 Nov 16:1-3. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2017.1395404. [Epub ahead of print]

Flexible competency based medical education: More time efficient, higher costs.

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a School of Health Professions Education (SHE) , Maastricht University , Maastricht , The Netherlands.
b VU University and VU University Medical Center , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.
c OLVG Teaching Hospital , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.
d Deventer Hospital , Deventer , The Netherlands.
e Department of Internal Medicine and Nephrology , Deventer Hospital , Deventer , The Netherlands.
f Independent Management Consultant , Bodegraven , The Netherlands.
g The Dutch Association of Medical Specialists , Utrecht , The Netherlands.
h Zuyderland Medical Center , Heerlen , The Netherlands.


The financing of postgraduate medical education (PGME) becomes an important topic. PGME is costly, and in most western countries is partly paid by public funding. One of the models that can help to reduce costs is time-variable PGME. Moving to true outcome-based education can lead to more efficient training programs while maintaining educational quality. We analyzed the financial effects of time-variable PGME by identifying the educational activities of PGME programs and comparing the costs and revenues of these activities in gynecology training as an example. This resulted in a revenue-cost balance of PGME activities in gynecology. As gynecology consists of both surgical and non-surgical parts, this specialty is a good starting point for a training cost analysis that can be used for a more general discussion. Shortening PGME programs without losing educational quality appears to be possible with time-variable structures. However, shortening is only safely possible on those areas in which residents have already obtained the desired level of competence. This means that time can be gained at the expense of those educational activities in which residents generate the highest revenues. We therefore conclude that shorter education with the help of time-variable training schemes leads to overall higher costs at the hospital level.

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