A Phased Approach: The General Surgery Experience Adopting Entrustable Professional Activities in the United States

Acad Med. 2021 Jul 1;96(7S):S9-S13. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004107.


Entrustable professional activities (EPAs) have been increasingly used as an assessment framework to formally capture the myriad ad hoc entrustment decisions that occur on a daily basis in clinical settings with learners present. Following the definition of Core EPAs for Entering Residency by the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2014, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) began to explore the utility of EPAs as a framework to support competency-based resident education within general surgery in 2016. As the complement of EPAs drafted for a specialty serve to define the core tasks of a professional within that discipline, initial efforts to define the entire scope of general surgery were fraught with difficulty as no commonly accepted definition of a general surgeon currently exists. Opting to prioritize a pilot of the EPA conceptual framework within surgical training rather than defining the entirety of the specialty, ABS leaders identified 5 EPAs that represent a core of general surgery with which to begin. This article details the process of choosing the initial set of EPAs and provides a roadmap for other disciplines interested in testing the feasibility of this assessment framework while garnering buy-in among the community of educators. Future steps, including implementation of the existing 5 EPAs beyond the initial pilot sites and drafting and implementation of the additional complement of EPAs, are also described.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis
  • Abdominal Pain / therapy
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Gallbladder Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gallbladder Diseases / therapy
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / diagnosis
  • Hernia, Inguinal / therapy
  • Humans
  • Implementation Science
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Referral and Consultation
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy