Teaching and assessing intra-operative consultations in competency-based medical education: development of a workplace-based assessment instrument

Virchows Arch. 2021 May 8. doi: 10.1007/s00428-021-03113-6. Online ahead of print.


Competency-based medical education (CBME) is being implemented worldwide. In CMBE, residency training is designed around competencies required for unsupervised practice and use entrustable professional activities (EPAs) as workplace "units of assessment". Well-designed workplace-based assessment (WBA) tools are required to document competence of trainees in authentic clinical environments. In this study, we developed a WBA instrument to assess residents' performance of intra-operative pathology consultations and conducted a validity investigation. The entrustment-aligned pathology assessment instrument for intra-operative consultations (EPA-IC) was developed through a national iterative consultation and used clinical supervisors to assess residents' performance at an anatomical pathology program. Psychometric analyses and focus groups were conducted to explore the sources of evidence using modern validity theory: content, response process, internal structure, relations to other variables, and consequences of assessment. The content was considered appropriate, the assessment was feasible and acceptable by residents and supervisors, and it had a positive educational impact by improving performance of intra-operative consultations and feedback to learners. The results had low reliability, which seemed to be related to assessment biases, and supervisors were reluctant to fully entrust trainees due to cultural issues. With CBME implementation, new workplace-based assessment tools are needed in pathology. In this study, we showcased the development of the first instrument for assessing resident's performance of a prototypical entrustable professional activity in pathology using modern education principles and validity theory.

Keywords: Assessment; Competency-based medical education; Entrustable professional activity; Intra-operative consultations; Validity; Workplace-based assessment.