Keynote Address: The Focus on Competencies and Individual Learner Assessment as Emerging Themes in Medical Education Research


  • Stanley J. Hamstra PhD

    Corresponding author
    • Academy for Innovation in Medical Education (AIME), University of Ottawa Skills and Simulation Centre, Departments of Medicine, Surgery, and Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • The author has no relevant financial information or potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

  • Editor's note: This article is based on the keynote address delivered to the Academic Emergency Medicine consensus conference “Education Research in Emergency Medicine: Opportunities, Challenges, and Strategies for Success,” Chicago, IL, May 9, 2012.

Address for correspondence and reprints: Stanley J. Hamstra, PhD; e-mail:


This article describes opportunities for scholarship in medical education, based on a brief overview of recent changes in medical education. The implications arising from these changes are discussed, with recommendations for focus, and suggestions and examples for making progress in this field. The author discusses 1) the historical context of the current shift toward competency-based medical education, 2) the potential contribution of social and behavioral sciences to medical education scholarship, 3) methods and approaches for supporting scholarship in medical education, and very briefly 4) trends in simulation. The author concludes with a call for quality in medical education scholarship and argues that the most promising and fruitful area of medical education scholarship for the future lies in the field of assessment of individual competence.