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20-08-2021 | Eye-Opener Open Access

Excellence in medical training: developing talent—not sorting it

Perspectives on Medical Education
Gurpreet Dhaliwal, Karen E. Hauer
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Supplementary Information

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40037-021-00678-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Many medical schools have reconsidered or eliminated clerkship grades and honor society memberships. National testing organizations announced plans to eliminate numerical scoring for the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 in favor of pass/fail results. These changes have led some faculty to wonder: “How will we recognize and reward excellence?” Excellence in undergraduate medical education has long been defined by high grades, top test scores, honor society memberships, and publication records. However, this model of learner excellence is misaligned with how students learn or what society values. This accolade-driven view of excellence is perpetuated by assessments that are based on gestalt impressions influenced by similarity between evaluators and students, and assessments that are often restricted to a limited number of traditional skill domains. To achieve a new model of learner excellence that values the trainee’s achievement, growth, and responsiveness to feedback across multiple domains, we must envision a new model of teacher excellence. Such teachers would have a growth mindset toward assessing competencies and learning new competencies. Actualizing true learner excellence will require teachers to change from evaluators who conduct assessments of learning to coaches who do assessment for learning. Schools will also need to establish policies and structures that foster a culture that supports this change. In this new paradigm, a teacher’s core duty is to develop talent rather than sort it.
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