A Signal Through the Noise: Do Professionalism Concerns Impact the Decision Making of Competence Committees? Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose To characterize how professionalism concerns influence individual reviewers’ decisions about resident progression using simulated competence committee (CC) reviews. Method In April 2017, the authors conducted a survey of 25 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada emergency medicine residency program directors and senior faculty who were likely to function as members of a CC (or equivalent) at their institution. Participants took a survey with 12 resident portfolios, each containing hypothetical formative and summative assessments. Six portfolios represented residents progressing as expected (PAE) and 6 represented residents not progressing as expected (NPAE). A professionalism variable (PV) was developed for each portfolio. Two counterbalanced surveys were developed in which 6 portfolios contained a PV and 6 portfolios did not (for each PV condition, 3 portfolios represented residents PAE and 3 represented residents NPAE). Participants were asked to make progression decisions based on each portfolio. Results Without PVs, the consistency of participants giving scores of 1 or 2 (i.e., little or no need for educational intervention) to residents PAE and to those NPAE was 92% and 10%, respectively. When a PV was added, the consistency decreased by 34% for residents PAE and increased by 4% for those NPAE (P = .01). Conclusions When reviewing a simulated resident portfolio, individual reviewer scores for residents PAE were responsive to the addition of professionalism concerns. Considering this, educators using a CC should have a system to report, collect, and document professionalism issues.


  • Odorizzi, Scott
  • Cheung, Warren J
  • Sherbino, Jonathan
  • Lee, AC
  • Thurgur, Lisa
  • Frank, Jason R

publication date

  • June 2020