Learning outcomes, organised into systems or frameworks which describe and define the output of an educational programme, are being created and used in healthcare education with increasing frequency (Harden 2001, 2002). Medical schools may be required to conform to more than one such outcome framework. For example, both the UK General Medical Council (GMC) and the Scottish Deans' Medical Curriculum Group (SDMCG) have created and published a systematic learning outcome framework for medical graduates. Although both of these publications are concerned with undergraduate medical education, they differ in their aims, and structure. In order to use, evaluate and validate them, a cross-referencing system which relates each learning outcome statement, term or groups of terms is required.
This paper describes the cross-referencing exercise undertaken by the SDMCG, the philosophy behind it, the practical steps taken, the findings, the lessons learnt and reflections upon how this work may be taken forward. It will be of interest to all those who are involved in curriculum development using outcomes, and especially those who use the GMC's Tomorrow's Doctors or the SDMCG's Scottish Doctor frameworks and those who are interested in education informatics in general.