Self-assessment and continuing professional development: the Canadian perspective

J Contin Educ Health Prof. Winter 2008;28(1):25-31. doi: 10.1002/chp.152.


Introduction: Several recent studies highlight that physicians are not very accurate at assessing their competence in clinical domains when compared to objective measures of knowledge and performance. Instead of continuing to try to train physicians to be more accurate self-assessors, the research suggests that physicians will benefit from learning programs that encourage them to reflect on their clinical practice, continuously seek answers to clinical problems they face, compare their knowledge and skills to clinical practice guidelines and benchmarks, and seek feedback from peers and their health care team.

Methods: This article describes the self-assessment learning activities of the College of Family Physicians of Canada Maintenance of Proficiency program (Mainpro) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Maintenance of Certification program. (MOC) RESULTS: The MOC and the Mainpro programs incorporate several self-evaluation learning processes and tools that encourage physicians to assess their professional knowledge and clinical performance against objective measures as well as guided self-audit learning activities that encourage physicians to gather information about their practices and reflect on it individually, with peers and their health care team. Physicians are also rewarded with extra credits when they participate in either of these kinds of learning activities.

Discussion: In the future, practice-based learning that incorporates self-assessment learning activities will play an increasingly important role as regulators mandate that all physicians participate in continuing professional development activities. Research in this area should be directed to understanding more about reflection in practice and how we can enable physicians to be more mindful.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Humans
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Self-Evaluation Programs*