Examining the barriers to meaningful assessment and feedback in medical training Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Recent reports from both accreditation bodies in North America highlight problems with current assessment practices in postgraduate medical training. Previous work has shown that educators might be reluctant to report poor performance or fail underperforming trainees. This study explores the barriers perceived by medical educators to providing more meaningful assessment and feedback to trainees. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 22 physician educators. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Three researchers analyzed the transcripts using a grounded theory approach. RESULTS: Participants expressed a reluctance to provide poor assessments or feedback to trainees. Fifty-five percent of the participants reported passing trainees who could have benefited from additional training. Our data revealed a number of barriers which may account for these findings. Implementing more frequent formative assessments could help educators more effectively evaluate trainees and provide feedback, although a shift in the culture of medicine may be required. CONCLUSION: It is imperative that the barriers to effective assessment and feedback identified in this study be addressed to improve postgraduate medical training and enhance patient care.


  • McQueen, Sydney A
  • Petrisor, Bradley
  • Bhandari, Mohit
  • Fahim, Christine
  • McKinnon, Victoria
  • Sonnadara, Ranil R

publication date

  • February 2016