Encouraging residents' professional development and career planning: the role of a development-oriented performance assessment

Kirsten Dijkhuizen*, Jacqueline Bustraan, Arnout J. de Beaufort, Sophie I. Velthuis, Erik W. Driessen, Jan M. M. van Lith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Current postgraduate medical training programmes fall short regarding residents' development of generic competencies (communication, collaboration, leadership, professionalism) and reflective and deliberate practice. Paying attention to these non-technical skills in a structural manner during postgraduate training could result in a workforce better prepared for practice. A development oriented performance assessment (PA), which assists residents with assessment of performance and deliberately planned learning activities, could potentially contribute to filling this gap. This study aims to explore residents experiences with the PA. Methods: We conducted a qualitative interview study with 16 residents from four different medical specialties who participated in the PA, scheduled halfway postgraduate training. The PA was conducted by an external facilitator, a psychologist, and focused specifically on professional development and career planning. Residents were interviewed 6 months after the PA. Data were analysed using the framework method for qualitative analysis. Results: Residents found the PA to be of additional value for their training. The overarching merit was the opportunity to evaluate competencies not usually addressed in workplace-based assessments and progress conversations. In addition, the PA proved a valuable tool for assisting residents with reflecting upon their work and formulating their learning objectives and activities. Residents reported increased awareness of capacity, self-confidence and enhanced feelings of career ownership. An important factor contributing to these outcomes was the relationship of trust with the facilitator and programme director. Conclusion: The PA is a promising tool in fostering the development of generic competencies and reflective and deliberate practice. The participating residents, facilitator and programme directors were able to contribute to a safe learning environment away from the busy workplace. The facilitator plays an important role by providing credible and informative feedback. Commitment of the programme director is important for the implementation of developmental plans and learning activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number207
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2018


  • Postgraduate medical education
  • Generic competencies
  • Reflective practice
  • Deliberate practice
  • Professional development
  • Performance assessment
  • Development Centre
  • Assessment Centre
  • Career planning
  • Qualitative research

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