Context: In 2003 the Dutch Central College of Medical Specialties presented guidelines for the modernisation of all medical specialty training programmes in the Netherlands. These guidelines are based to a large extent on the CanMEDS (Canadian Medical Education Directives for Specialists) 2000 model, which defines 7 roles for medical specialists. This model was adjusted to the Dutch situation. The roles were converted to 7 fields of competency: Medical Performance; Communication; Collaboration; Knowledge and Science; Community Performance; Management, and Professionalism.
Objective: As changes in postgraduate training will probably be most effective if future trainees recognise their value, we set out to determine how senior medical students rated these fields of competency in terms of their importance.
Methods: We carried out a study at University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, the Netherlands, in which 80 Year 6 medical students answered a questionnaire in which they rated the importance of each of 28 key competencies within the 7 competency fields.
Results: Although all key competencies were regarded as important (averages > or = 3.8), Professionalism and Communication scored highest on the student ratings. Management was assessed as least important.
Conclusions: It is interesting that medical students acknowledged the importance of competencies other than those involving medical expertise and performance. It confirms the opinion that educating doctors is currently viewed as much more than providing theoretical and clinical knowledge and skills. The CanMEDS framework is appreciated by Dutch medical students. The fact that all competencies are seen as important adds to their face validity and therefore to their usefulness as a basis for postgraduate training.