gms | German Medical Science

4th Research in Medical Education (RIME) Symposium 2015

19.03-21.03.2015, München

The competency-based movement: A global perspective

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker John Norcini - Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), Philadelphia, USA
  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Ara Tekian - University of Illinois at Chicago, Dept. of Medical Education, Chicago, USA

4th Research in Medical Education (RIME) Symposium 2015. München, 19.-21.03.2015. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2015. DocKN2

doi: 10.3205/15rime02, urn:nbn:de:0183-15rime028

Published: March 12, 2015

© 2015 Norcini et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. You are free: to Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited. See license information at



Over the past two decades there has been an international movement toward competency-based medical education. Specific, measureable competencies have been identified and learners are expected to work towards them until they are achieved. Competency-based educational programs will be learner-centered and outcome-focused. Time, as a measure, will have decreased importance, and training length may increase for some learners and decrease for others. In support of this movement, many countries and institutions have created lists of “competencies” that summarize the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required. More recently, this movement has been embellished with the creation of “milestones” and “entrustable professional activities”.

Competency-based education achieved international prominence in an article by Frenk et al. [1] in The Lancet. In the traditional model of education, objectives are defined within the context of the academy and assessment is directed at ensuring that those objectives are met. In the competency model, the health care needs of the community serve as the foundation. These needs define the competencies and outcomes which, in turn, determine the curriculum and assessment. Through this model, students acquire the skills and procedures needed most by the community.

This plenary session will trace the history of the competency-based education movement from its roots in elementary and secondary education to its current application in medical education. Global perspectives, specifically those of Canada, Europe, and the United States will be offered as will developments supporting their rationales. Central to the success of competency-based education is assessment and this session will highlight some of the challenges it faces.


Frenk J, Chen L, Bhutta ZA, Cohen J, Crisp N, Evans T, Fineberg H, Garcia P, Ke Y, Kelley P, Kistnasamy B, Meleis A, Naylor D, Pablos-Mendez A, Reddy S, Scrimshaw S, Sepulveda J, Serwadda D, Zurayk H. Health professionals for a new century: Transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world. Lancet. 2010;376(9756):1923-1958. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61854-5 External link