Defining the capabilities and competencies of high-performing family physicians: a mixed methods study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • IntroductionHigh-performing primary care is recognised as the foundation of an effective and efficient healthcare system. Many medical graduates report they are not prepared for independent practice. To date, no research has been conducted to identify the key capabilities and competencies of high-performing family medicine graduates in Canada. This pilot project aims to identify the capabilities and competencies of high-performing early-career family physicians in Ontario, Canada, and explore opportunities for enhancing learning, teaching and assessment within family medicine residency programmes.Methods and analysisEmploying a mixed-methods explanatory sequential study design, this research will use a theory-driven Professional Capability Framework, previously validated in studies across nine professions, to guide the investigation. The first (quantitative) phase involves surveying ~50 high-performing early-career family physicians identified as high performing by educators, colleagues and leaders. The objective of the survey is to identify the key competencies and personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities of high-performing family physicians. The second (qualitative) phase involves conducting workshops with stakeholders, including educators, professional associations, regulators and colleges, to test the veracity of the results. Quantitative data will be analysed using descriptive statistics, and qualitative data will be analysed using Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis. The first and second phases will identify the key capabilities and competencies required to confidently adapt to the independent practice of comprehensive family medicine and inform fit-for-purpose educational strategies for teaching, learning and assessment.Ethics and disseminationThe study is approved by the University of Toronto’s Health Sciences Research Ethics Board (#41799). Research findings will be discussed with professional bodies, educators responsible for family medicine curricula and universities. Study findings will also be disseminated through academic conferences and academic publications in peer-reviewed journals. Project summaries and infographics will be developed and disseminated to key stakeholders.


  • Aggarwal, Monica
  • Scott, Geoffrey
  • Kokorelias, Kristina Marie
  • Kulasegaram, Kulamakan
  • Katz, Alan
  • Upshur, Ross

publication date

  • August 2023