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GMS J Med Educ. 2017 Nov 15;34(5):Doc63. doi: 10.3205/zma001140. eCollection 2017.

The postgraduate medical education pathway: an international comparison.

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University Medical Centre Utrecht, Centre for Research and Development of Education, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


in English, German

An at first sight seemingly coherent, global medical workforce, with clearly recognizable specialities, subspecialties and primary care doctors, appears at a closer look quite variable. Even within the most progressive countries as to the development of medical education, with educators who regularly meet at conferences and share major journals about medical education, the differences in structures and regulations are big. This contribution focuses on the preparation, admission policy, duration, examinations, and national competency frameworks in postgraduate speciality training in Germany, the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. While general objectives for postgraduate training programs have not been very clear, only recently competency-frameworks, created in a limited number of countries, serve harmonize objectives. This process appears to be a challenge and the recent creation of milestones for the reporting on progress of individual trainees (in the US and in Canada in different ways) and the adoption of entrustable professional activities, a most recent concept that is quickly spreading internationally as a framework for teaching and assessing in the clinical workplace is an interesting and hopeful development, but time will tell whether true harmonization across countries will happen.


national licensing examinations; postgraduate medical education; residency program; specialty training; undergraduate medical education

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