Continuing medical education: the question of evaluation

Med Educ. 1997 Jan;31(1):67-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.1997.tb00046.x.


This paper examines the question of evaluation which has been largely neglected in the credit-based systems of continuing medical education adopted by the Medical Royal Colleges. These systems are seen to encourage a training model of continuing education and a scientific model of evaluation as measurement. By contrast, humanistic evaluation is interpretative and differs not only in its criteria and methods, but also in its underpinning curricular ideologies and values. This model has closer links with concepts of education and professional practice associated with continuing professional development. Decisions about who should conduct the evaluation, what is to be evaluated, how it should be carried out, and about the goals and purposes of evaluation are outlined, noting that they presuppose an ideological view of the relationship of professional knowledge, values and practice. In a concluding discussion of evaluation and the control of professional knowledge, it is argued that the narrow, professional control of evaluation, buttressed by the quality assurance and monitoring mechanisms of the Colleges, is inappropriate, given the increasingly diverse accountabilities which affect medical professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Program Evaluation
  • Staff Development
  • United Kingdom