Attending Emergency Physicians’ Perceptions of a Programmatic Workplace-Based Assessment System: The McMaster Modular Assessment Program (McMAP) Academic Article uri icon

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  • Construct: The McMaster Modular Assessment Program (McMAP) is a programmatic workplace-based assessment (WBA) system that provides emergency medicine trainees with competency judgments through frequent task-specific and global daily assessments. Background: The longevity of McMAP relative to other programmatic WBA systems affords a unique view that precedes large-scale transitions to competency-based medical education (CBME), particularly in North America. Although prior work has described the perspective of residents using this system, the in-depth experiences of assessors using the system have yet to be explored. This perspective is important for understanding the validity of the competency judgments the system produces. Approach: We conducted a qualitative study that used semi-structured interviews analyzed using interpretive description (Thorne) to explore 16 attending physicians' experiences using McMAP. Data analysis was completed independently by 2 researchers, who met regularly to discuss codes and resolve any disagreements. Results: Having a structured assessment framework for a range of clinical tasks has helped encourage what attendings perceived to be more frequent and better-quality assessments, with the added advantages of being holistic, flexible, and learner-driven. However, attendings also perceived a number of challenges of McMAP and programmatic WBA more broadly. These included a reluctance to give and to document negative feedback, "gaming" of the system by both attendings and residents, and a variety of logistic and technology-related concerns. Conclusions: Based on our findings, we offer several key recommendations that can help programs maximize the benefits of programmatic WBA as they transition to CBME.


  • Acai, Anita
  • Li, Shelly-Anne
  • Sherbino, Jonathan
  • Chan, Teresa

publication date

  • August 8, 2019