The medical education system is an upstream contributor to health care: it is responsible for preparing physicians and surgeons to participate in the health care system. In order to remain accountable to the society and governing bodies that it works to support, the medical education system must work to ensure that every graduate is competent and prepared for practice.
Increasingly, the international medical education community is looking to evidence that suggests that the traditional, time-dependent models of training and lifelong learning can, and should, be improved. An amalgamation of key developments in educational theory, competency-based medical education (CBME) has been brought forward amongst health professions as one solution to addressing criticisms of current approaches to training. In fact, CBME has been suggested as an approach to educating physicians for over 50 years! (McGaghie et al., 1978 as cited in Frank et al., 2010).
CBME is a method of assuring the production of competent physicians by utilizing explicit abilities (or competencies) of physicians and using these competencies as a way to organize medical education.
In contrast to traditional models of medical education where the educational objectives of a program are developed based on a predetermined curriculum, CBME begins with defining competencies that integrate knowledge, skills, values and attitudes essential for practice (Frank et al., 2010).
Competencies for practice act as the “organizing units” for designing the corresponding education programs and assessment strategies (Albanese et al., 2008 as cited in Frank et al., 2010). In this approach, competencies frame the development of corresponding teaching and assessment methods, amassing together to achieve competence and to facilitate progressive development (Frank et al., 2010).
Ultimately, the rationale for implementing CBME is that it is centered on addressing the health and health systems needs of the population being served. The incorporation of CBME into training of health professionals reinforces the social accountability of the medical education system to meet the health needs of the population.
Driven by patient need and supported by educational theory, international stakeholders are adopting CBME in place of traditional models, each employing context-driven adaptations of CBME systems framed around the five core components of CBME