Student perspective on outcomes and process: Recommendations for implementing competency-based medical education

Neill Storrar, David Hope, Helen Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Competency-based medical education (CBME) seeks to prepare undergraduate and postgraduate trainees for clinical practice. Its major emphasis is on outcomes, but questions about how best to reach these remain. One key issue is the need to integrate what matters most to students when setting educational goals: this is crucial if we are to design curricula that trainees understand and engage with, and that promote successful achievement of competencies.

Method: We interviewed medical students in years 4 and 6 of a 6-year medical degree and used thematic analysis to understand their main educational priorities and how these fit with the aims of CBME.

Results: Two major themes emerged: features of content and process. For content, students wanted clear guidance on what constitutes competence, finding broad outcome statements abstract and difficult to understand as novices. They also attach critical importance to features of process such as being welcomed, included in clinical teams and being known personally – these promote motivation, understanding, and professional development.

Conclusions: We present recommendations for those designing CBME curricula to emphasize the student perspective: what kind of guidance on outcomes is required, and features of process that must not be neglected if competence is to be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number2
Early online date20 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, publishing as Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Medical Teacher on 20/3/2018, available online:

Funding:University of Edinburgh Principal’s Teaching Award


  • Learning Outcomes
  • Outcome Based < Curriculum
  • Medicine < Profession
  • Clinical < Teaching & Learning
  • Education environment < Curriculum


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