“We’re all there to learn”: The experience of novice workplace-based assessors in anaesthesia training
Keywords:clinical competence, competency-based assessment, medical education, educational measurement, anaesthesiology, qualitative research
Introduction: Workplace-based assessments (WBAs) are used in competency-based training programs to facilitate learning and inform decisions on trainees’ progression. Competency in assessing WBAs is generally assumed; how assessors develop these skills remains largely unknown. This study explored how novice assessors acquire WBA skills to generate insights to inform future faculty development.
Methods: We conducted seven semi-structured interviews with provisional fellows, who are final-year trainees of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. Provisional fellows assess junior trainees as part of their preparation for consultant practice. We used constructivist grounded theory methods to analyse their experience of learning to perform WBAs.
Results: Participants primarily learned WBA skills through experiential learning and self-reflection on their practice. They developed practical skills to accommodate WBA into clinical practice, including finding time to facilitate WBAs and selecting appropriate cases. Simultaneously, participants developed expertise in the critical aspects of the assessment, particularly learning to determine the standard required of trainees and improving their feedback skills. This learning engendered an increased appreciation of the purpose of WBA, helped participants develop their clinical expertise and prompted them to envision themselves in the consultant role. Participants felt underprepared for their assessor role and appreciated access to the “safety net” ongoing supervision provided.
Conclusion: This study provides valuable insights into what is learned in becoming a WBA assessor and how it is learned. These insights could inform future faculty development initiatives to help improve graduating consultants’ development in this important area of consultant practice.
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