Assessment in the context of licensure and certification

Teach Learn Med. 2013:25 Suppl 1:S62-7. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2013.842909.


Over the past 25 years, three major forces have had a significant influence on licensure and certification: the shift in focus from educational process to educational outcomes, the increasing recognition of the need for learning and assessment throughout a physician's career, and the changes in technology and psychometrics that have opened new vistas for assessment. These forces have led to significant changes in assessment for licensure and certification. To respond to these forces, licensure and certification programs have improved the ways in which their examinations are constructed, scored, and delivered. In particular, we note the introduction of adaptive testing; automated item creation, scoring, and test assembly; assessment engineering; and data forensics. Licensure and certification programs have also expanded their repertoire of assessments with the rapid development and adoption of simulation and workplace-based assessment. Finally, they have invested in research intended to validate their programs in four ways: (a) the acceptability of the program to stakeholders, (b) the extent to which stakeholders are encouraged to learn and improve, (c) the extent to which there is a relationship between performance in the programs and external measures, and (d) the extent to which there is a relationship between performance as measured by the assessment and performance in practice. Over the past 25 years, changes in licensure and certification have been driven by the educational outcomes movement, the need for lifelong learning, and advances in technology and psychometrics. Over the next 25 years, we expect these forces to continue to exert pressure for change which will lead to additional improvement and expansion in examination processes, methods of assessment, and validation research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Certification / trends*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical / trends*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Licensure, Medical / trends*
  • Psychometrics