Using job analysis to identify core and specific competencies: implications for selection and recruitment


Professor Fiona Patterson, Organisational Psychology, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK. Tel: 00 44 115 940 7978; Fax: 00 44 115 940 7978; E-mail:


Objective  Modern postgraduate medical training requires both accurate and reliable selection procedures. An essential first step is to conduct detailed job analysis studies. This paper reports data on a series of job analyses to develop a competency model for three secondary care specialties (anaesthesia, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics).

Methods  Three independent job analysis studies were conducted. The content validity of the resulting competency domains was tested using a questionnaire-based study with specialty trainees (specialist registrars [SpRs]) and consultants drawn from the three specialties. Job analysis was carried out in the Yorkshire and the Humber region in the UK. The validation study was administered with additional participants from the West Midlands and Trent regions in the UK. This was an exploratory study. The outcome is a set of competency domains with data on their importance at senior house officer, SpR and consultant grade in each specialty.

Results  The study produced a model comprising 14 general competency domains that were common to all the three specialties. However, there were significant between-specialty differences in both definitions of domains and the ratings of importance attached to them.

Conclusions  The results indicate that a wide range of attributes beyond clinical knowledge and academic achievement need to be considered in order to ensure doctors train and work within a specialty for which they have a particular aptitude. This has significant implications for developing selection criteria for specialty training. Future research should explore the content validity of these competency domains in other secondary care specialties.