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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: George R Bergus, MD, MA (Ed) (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine)
Description: With this book and DVD, the editors set out to provide medical educators with a "practical guide to developing evaluation systems." In pursuit of this goal they have recruited 18 different authors who have written the 14 chapters.
Purpose: Assessing medical learners, particularly their clinical skills, has rightfully gained greater emphasis over the past decade. No longer should clinical competence be assumed after success on a test of declarative knowledge. Possessing knowledge and being able to apply the knowledge in the proper clinical setting are quite different.
Audience: This book is an important resource for physicians and other medical educators involved in training physicians. The authors are widely recognized experts in their fields, but few non-U.S. experts are represented in the list of contributors, which is surprising as much of the breakthrough work on assessing clinical competence has occurred in Canada and Western Europe.
Features: The chapters detail important assessment tools which might be used to construct a comprehensive evaluation system, including direct observation by faculty, portfolios, practice audits, and multisource feedback. A chapter also covers the theoretical basis of assessment with an emphasis on validity and reliability. Each chapter ends with an annotated bibliography and a complete list of references which will aid further study. The DVD contains video recordings of doctor-patient interactions designed to help educators refine their observation skills. In addition to chapters about assessing medical learners, a very helpful chapter discusses how to help underperforming learners after they are identified. Most chapters emphasize assessing learners in residencies and many of the examples and sample forms are most relevant to internal medicine residents. While much of the book is applicable to medical students, a third year clerkship director might find it challenging to employ some of the content.
Assessment: This book should be in the library of any medical educator who is responsible for assuring that the trainees in a residency program are gaining the expected level of clinical competence. Medical educators will find this book not only authoritative, but also practical; there are few books that offer this balance. The editors clearly meet their goal.