Evaluation of the Characteristics of a Workplace Assessment Form to Assess Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) in an Undergraduate Surgery Core Clerkship

Vernon R Curran, Diana Deacon, Henry Schulz, Katherine Stringer, Craig N Stone, Norah Duggan, Heidi Coombs-Thorne
Journal of Surgical Education 2018, 75 (5): 1211-1222

OBJECTIVE: Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) are explicit, directly observable tasks requiring the demonstration of specific knowledge, skills, and behaviors that learners are expected to perform without direct supervision once they have gained sufficient competence. Undergraduate level implementation of EPAs is relatively new. We examined the characteristics of a workplace assessment form (clinic card) as part of a formative programmatic assessment process of EPAs for a core undergraduate surgery rotation.

DESIGN: A clinic card was introduced to assess progression towards EPA achievement in the clerkship curriculum phase. Students completing their core eight (8) week clerkship surgery rotation submitted at least 1 clinic card per week. We compiled assessment scores for the 2015 to 2016 academic year, in which EPAs were introduced, and analyzed relationships between scores and time, EPA, training site, and assessor role. We surveyed preceptors and students, and conducted a focus group with clinical discipline coordinators of all core rotations.

SETTING: This study took place at the Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

PARTICIPANTS: Third year medical students (n = 79) who completed their core eight (8) week surgery clerkship rotation during the 2015 to 2016 academic year, preceptors, and clinical discipline coordinators participated in this study.

RESULTS: EPAs reflecting tasks commonly performed by students were more likely to be assessed. EPAs frequently observed during preceptor-student encounters had higher entrustment ratings. Most EPAs showed increased entrustment scores over time and no significant differences in ratings between teaching sites nor preceptors and residents. Survey and focus group feedback suggest clinic cards fostered direct observation by preceptors and promoted constructive feedback on clinical tasks. A binary rating scale (entrustable/pre-entrustable) was not educationally beneficial.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings support the feasibility, utility, catalytic and educational benefits of clinic cards in assessing EPAs in a core surgery rotation in undergraduate medical education.

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