Envisioning a True Continuum of Competency-Based Medical Education, Training, and Practice

Cate O, Carraccio C
Academic Medicine

The existing structure of physician education has developed in siloed stages, with consecutive degrees and certifications and progressively longer training programs. As further fragmentation of health care and training systems will not improve the quality of care and education, the authors argue that a new vision of education, training, and practice as a continuum is needed.

They advocate for a model of competency-based medical education that merges with competency-based medical practice. In this system, education and training will result in individual, dynamic portfolios of valid entrustable professional activities (EPAs) for which physicians are certified. Physicians can maintain and renew that entrustment as long as the EPAs remain within their scope of practice. Entrustment occurs initially during training but is then granted for new activities as physicians’ careers evolve.

This model accounts for the need to keep pace with changes in population health needs and expectations of competence over time. It de-emphasizes the divides between the stages of training and views the continuum from undergraduate medical education until retirement as a whole. Key obligations of self-regulating medical professionals include both the reception and the provision of supervision from and for others, respectively. Learning must be embedded in practice to address expectations regarding new knowledge and skills as they evolve with scientific and technological advances.

Entrusting physicians to deliver effective and safe care, based on their performance of the requisite EPAs without supervision, should ensure that they provide high-value, quality care to patients.