Trainee doctors' views on workplace-based assessments: Are they just a tick box exercise?

Med Teach. 2011;33(11):919-27. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.558140.


Background: In August 2007, run-through specialty training and workplace-based assessments (WBAs) were introduced for UK junior doctors.

Aim: This study explores whether WBAs have been successfully integrated into paediatric training programmes.

Method: A 20-item questionnaire was distributed to regional paediatric trainees.

Results: Eighty seven per cent (130/150) trainees responded. Reliability of the study was good (Cronbach's alpha 0.813); 92% (119/130) trainees knew how to conduct WBAs (scoring ≥ 4 on the six-point Likert scale). However, they were ambivalent about WBAs being a true reflection of their capabilities (mean Likert score 3.46). A common problem was finding assessors with 40% of trainees stating that staff had refused to do assessments. Almost half of the assessments were done retrospectively. Trainees did receive feedback but advice on future improvement was not always given (highest mean Likert score 4.00). Free text comments analysis mostly centred on difficulties in getting WBAs done.

Conclusions: A cultural change is needed for trainees to feel that WBAs are not just a tick box exercise, but a useful educational tool for learning. Ongoing work on implementation needs to include additional training, especially on the value of WBAs for formative assessment and consultants having protected time in their job plans for training.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Pediatrics / education
  • Specialization
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Workplace*