Evaluation Apprehension and Impression Management in Clinical Medical Education

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Abstract

Historically, clinical medical education has relied on subjective evaluations of students and residents to judge their clinical competence. The uncertainty associated with these subjective clinical evaluations has produced evaluation apprehension among learners and attempts to manage one’s professional persona (impression management) among peers and supervisors. Such behavior has been documented from antiquity through the Middle Ages to the present, including in two new qualitative studies in this issue of Academic Medicine on the social psychology of clinical medical education. New approaches to medical education, including competency-based education, mastery learning, and assessment methods that unite evaluation and education, are slowly changing the culture of clinical medical education. The author of this Invited Commentary argues that this shift will bring greater transparency and accountability to clinical medical education and gradually reduce evaluation apprehension and the impression management motives it produces.

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