Exploring Competency-Based Medical Education Through the Lens of the UME-GME Transition: A Qualitative Study

Marygrace Zetkulic*, John P. Moriarty, Alpesh Amin, Steve Angus, Bhavin Dalal, Sara Fazio, Paul Hemmer, Heather S. Laird-Fick, Elaine Muchmore, L. James Nixon, Andrew Olson, John H. Choe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Competency-based medical education (CBME) represents a shift to a paradigm with shared definitions, explicit outcomes, and assessments of competence. The groundwork has been laid to ensure all learners achieve the desired outcomes along the medical education continuum using the principles of CBME. However, this continuum spans the major transition from undergraduate medical education (UME) to graduate medical education (GME) that is also evolving. This study explores the experiences of medical educators working to use CBME assessments in the context of the UME-GME transition and their perspectives on the existing challenges. Method This study used a constructivist-oriented qualitative methodology. In-depth, semistructured interviews of UME and GME leaders in CBME were performed between February 2019 and January 2020 via Zoom. When possible, each interviewee was interviewed by 2 team members, one with UME and one with GME experience, which allowed follow-up questions to be pursued that reflected the perspectives of both UME and GME educators more fully. A multistep iterative process of thematic analysis was used to analyze the transcripts and identify patterns across interviews. Results The 9 interviewees represented a broad swath of UME and GME leadership positions, though most had an internal medicine training background. Analysis identified 4 overarching themes: mistrust (a trust chasm exists between UME and GME); misaligned goals (the residency selection process is antithetical to CBME); inadequate communication (communication regarding competence is infrequent, often unidirectional, and lacks a shared language); and inflexible timeframes (current training timeframes do not account for individual learners' competency trajectories). Conclusions Despite the mutual desire and commitment to move to CBME across the continuum, mistrust, misaligned goals, inadequate communication, and inflexible timeframes confound such efforts of individual schools and programs. If current efforts to improve the UME-GME transition address the themes identified, educators may be more successful implementing CBME along the continuum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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