As medical educators continue to redefine learning and assessment across the continuum, implementation of competency-based medical education in the undergraduate setting has become a focus of many medical schools. While standards of competency have been defined for the graduating student, there is no uniform approach for defining competency expectations for students during their core clerkship year. The authors describe the process by which an Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine task force developed a paradigm for competency-based assessment of students during their inpatient internal medicine (IM) clerkship. Building on work at the resident and fellowship levels, the task force focused on the development of key learning outcomes as defined by entrustable professional activities (EPAs) that were specific to educational experiences on the IM clerkship, as well as identification of high-priority assessment domains. The work was informed by a national survey of clerkship directors.
Six key EPAs emerged: generating a differential diagnosis, obtaining a complete and accurate history and physical exam, obtaining focused histories and clinically relevant physical exams, preparing an oral presentation, interpreting the results of basic diagnostic studies, and providing well-organized clinical documentation. A model for assessment was proposed, with descriptors aligned to the scale of supervision and mapped to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education domains of competence. The proposed paradigm offers a standardized template that may be used across IM clerkships, and which would effectively bridge competency evaluation in the clerkship to fourth-year assessment as well as eventual postgraduate training.