The CanMEDS initiative: implementing an outcomes-based framework of physician competencies

Med Teach. 2007 Sep;29(7):642-7. doi: 10.1080/01421590701746983.


Background: Outcomes-based education in the health professions has emerged as a priority for curriculum planners striving to align with societal needs. However, many struggle with effective methods of implementing such an approach. In this narrative, we describe the lessons learned from the implementation of a national, needs-based, outcome-oriented, competency framework called the CanMEDS initiative of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Methods: We developed a framework of physician competencies organized around seven physician "Roles": Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Manager, Health Advocate, Scholar, and Professional. A systematic implementation plan involved: the development of standards for curriculum and assessment, faculty development, educational research and resources, and outreach.

Lessons learned: Implementing this competency framework has resulted in successes, challenges, resistance to change, and a list of essential ingredients for outcomes-based medical education.

Conclusions: A multifaceted implementation strategy has enabled this large-scale curriculum change for outcomes-based education.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education / organization & administration*
  • Competency-Based Education / standards
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Education, Medical / trends
  • Faculty, Medical / standards
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Physician's Role
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Staff Development