Scoping Review of Entrustable Professional Activities in Undergraduate Medical Education

Eric G. Meyer*, H. Carrie Chen, Sebastian Uijtdehaage, Steven J. Durning, Lauren A. Maggio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Purpose Entrustable professional activities (EPAs) are a hot topic in undergraduate medical education (UME); however, the usefulness of EPAs as an assessment approach remains unclear. The authors sought to better understand the literature on EPAs in UME through the lens of the 2010 Ottawa Conference Criteria for Good Assessment. Method The authors conducted a scoping review of the health professions literature (search updated February 2018), mapping publications to the Ottawa Criteria using a collaboratively designed charting tool. Results Of the 1,089 publications found, 71 (6.5%) met inclusion criteria. All were published after 2013. Forty-five (63.4%) referenced the 13 Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Forty (56.3%) were perspectives, 5 (7.0%) were reviews, and 26 (36.6%) were prospective empirical studies. The publications mapped to the Ottawa Criteria 158 times. Perspectives mapped more positively (83.7%) than empirical studies (76.7%). Reproducibility did not appear to be a strength of EPAs in UME; however, reproducibility, equivalence, educational effect, and catalytic effect all require further study. Inconsistent use of the term "EPA" and conflation of concepts (activity vs assessment vs advancement decision vs curricular framework) limited interpretation of published results. Overgeneralization of the AAMC's work on EPAs has influenced the literature. Conclusions Much has been published on EPAs in UME in a short time. Now is the time to move beyond opinion, clarify terms, and delineate topics so that well-designed empirical studies can demonstrate if and how EPAs should be implemented in UME.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1049
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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