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J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2020 Jan 30;7:2382120519893989. doi: 10.1177/2382120519893989. eCollection 2020 Jan-Dec.

Goal-Setting on a Geriatric Medicine Rotation: A Pilot Study.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.



Formal goal-setting has been shown to enhance performance and improve educational experiences. We initiated a standardized goal-setting intervention for all residents rotating through a Geriatric Medicine rotation.


This study aims to describe the feasibility of a goal-setting intervention on a geriatric medicine rotation, the resources required, and the barriers to implementation. As well, this study aims to describe the learning goals residents created regarding content and quality.


A pilot goal-setting intervention was initiated. A goal-setting form was provided at the beginning of their rotation and reviewed at the end of the rotation. Residents were invited to complete an anonymous online survey to gather feedback on the initiative. Goals were analysed for content and quality. Feedback from the survey results was incorporated into the goal-setting process.


Between March and December 2018, 26 of 44 residents completed the goal-setting initiative. Explanations for the poor adherence included limited protected time for faculty and residents to engage in coaching, its voluntary nature, and trainee absence during orientation. Reasons for difficulty in achieving goals included lack of faculty and trainee time and difficulty assisting residents in achieving goals when no clinical opportunities arose. Although only 59% of residents completed the intervention, if goal-setting took place, most of the goals were specific (71 of 77; 92%) and 35 of 77 (45.5%) goals were not related to medical knowledge.


This pilot study outlines the successes and barriers of a brief goal-setting intervention during a Geriatric Medicine rotation. Adherence was limited; however, of those who did complete the intervention, the creation of specific goals with a short, structured goal-setting form was possible. To enhance the intervention, goal-setting form completion should be enforced and efforts should be made to engage in mid-rotation check-ins and coaching.


competency based medical education; goal-setting; individual learning plan; medical education; self-directed learning

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of conflicting interests:The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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