Deliberate practice is an important skill-training strategy in emergency medicine (EM) education. Learning curves display the relationship between practice and proficiency. Forgetting curves show the opposite, and demonstrate how skill decays over time when it is not reinforced. Using examples of published studies of deliberate practice in EM we list the properties of learning and forgetting curves and suggest how they can be combined to create experience curves: a longitudinal representation of the relationship between practice, skill acquisition, and decay over time. This framework makes explicit the need to avoid a piecemeal, episodic approach to skill practice and assessment in favor of more emphasis on what can be done to improve durability of competence over time. The authors highlight the implications for both educators and education researchers.
© 2012 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.