The lived experience of Competence by Design: Canadian resident physicians' perspectives

Franziska Miller (Lead / Corresponding author), Sarah Wood, Patricia Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Canadian specialist residency programs are in the process of transitioning to a hybrid time and competence model, Competence by Design (CBD), developed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada. Although there is extensive literature around competency-based medical education (CBME), few studies have evaluated the experience of residents after CBME implementation. The purpose of this study was to obtain a rich perspective on the lived experience of residents.

METHODS: We designed a qualitative study with inductive thematic analysis of semistructured interview data. The study population was residents in CBD postgraduate training programs in anesthesiology, internal medicine, or surgery (including all surgical subspecialties) at Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS, Canada).

RESULTS: Residents identified the following benefits of their programs and CBD: supportive peers and clinical supervisors, a roadmap for residency, formalized feedback opportunities, and program evolution. Resident-identified drawbacks of CBD included: a lack of transparency around CBD, CBD not as advertised, a lack of buy-in, increased administrative burden, difficulties obtaining evidence for entrustable professional activities (EPAs); the onus for CBD on residents, inconsistent feedback, cumbersome technology, and significant psychological burden. Resident-suggested improvements were reducing the number of EPAs, streamlining EPA requirements, increasing transparency and communication with competence committees, providing incentives and continuous education for clinical supervisors, improving on existing electronic interfaces, and developing technology better suited to the needs of CBD.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights that the significant administrative and psychological burden of CBD detracts from clinical learning and enthusiasm for residency. Future research could explore whether overcoming the identified challenges will improve residents' experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-263
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Anesthesia
Issue number2
Early online date22 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Humans
  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence
  • Internship and Residency
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Surgeons


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