Virtues in Competency-Based Assessment Frameworks: A Text Analysis

A. Stef Groenewoud
Frank J. A. van den Hoogen
J. J. (Jos) Kole
Pleuntje M. B. Verstegen
Soort article
Original Research
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Introduction: Official documentation of specialty training provides comprehensive and elaborate criteria to assess residents. These criteria are commonly described in terms of competency roles and entrustable professional activities (EPA’s), but they may also implicitly encompass virtues. Virtues are desirable personal qualities that enable a person, in this case, a medical specialist, to make and act on the right decisions. We articulate these virtues and explore the resulting implied ideal of a medical professional.

Method: We applied a two-staged virtue ethical content analysis to analyze documents, specific to the Dutch training program of the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialty. First, we identified explicit references to virtues. Next, we articulated implicit virtues through interpretation. The results were categorized into cardinal, intellectual, moral, and professional virtues.

Results: Thirty virtues were identified in the ENT- training program. Amongst them, practical wisdom, temperance, and commitment. Furthermore, integrity, curiosity, flexibility, attentiveness, trustworthiness and calmness are often implicitly assumed. Notable findings are the emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness. Together, these virtues depict an ideal of a future medical specialist.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that competency-frameworks and EPA’s implicitly appeal to virtues and articulate a specific ideal surgeon. Explicit attention for virtue development and discussion of the role and relevance of implied ideal professionals in terms of virtues could further improve specialty training.


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