CBME webinars: looking back and looking ahead

By: Dorothy Andriole (@AndrioleDorothy) and Michael Barone (@BaroneMichael)

The ICBME Collaborators started hosting webinars in 2016 to engage colleagues across the world on the important issues in competency-based education. As the 2021-2022 CBME webinar series draws to a close, we’ve spent some time looking back at the entire webinar series’ history, reflecting on this past year, and looking ahead to what’s coming up in the 2022-2023 season.

The first webinar in the entire series,  offered in March 2016 with 80 registrants, was very appropriately entitled “An Introduction to CBME”  Ensuing webinars were offered roughly monthly over the course of each academic year through 2018-2019. After a disrupted year in 2019-2020 when, in the context of the pandemic, only four webinars were offered,  a full slate of monthly webinars was promptly resumed in 2020-2021 year.

The educational disruptions of COVID, and the responses of the educational community at large to these disruptions, brought for many a renewed focus on CBME. Ryan and his colleagues, in their recently published article entitled, Competency-based medical education: considering its past, present and a post-COVID-19 era summarize the myriad disruptions to medical education brought on by COVID-191 The authors thoughtfully reflect on both the opportunities and challenges for CBME that emerged through these disruptions.1 In the United States, interest in CBME was  further catalyzed by the release of the Coalition for Physician Accountability’s Undergraduate Medical Education -Graduate Medical Education Review Committee (UGRC) Recommendations for Comprehensive Improvement of the UME-GME Transition Report.2 The 34 recommendations in this report are heavily embedded in a competency-based approach to medical education and the UME-GME transition. “Competencies” are referred to well over 100 times in the document. 2

The global COVID-19 pandemic also led to the rapid adoption of formats such as online platforms for continuous professional development (CPD).  The development of skills-sets to use such virtual platforms accelerated out of necessity across the entire medical education community at large. For many medical educators, acquisition of these newfound skills was accompanied by an eagerness to connect virtually on a regular basis with colleagues all over the world. The 2020-2021 CBME webinar series offered one way to do for many, reflected in the robust registration numbers (several hundred for each webinar) for the 8 webinars offered in 2021-2022.  The full recordings for these eight webinars can be accessed at the 2020/21 CBME Webinar Series – Recording Archives.

We had the opportunity to plan topics and  recruit speakers  and facilitators for the 2021-2022 webinar series. The 2021-2022 webinar series ran from October 2021 through June 2022he full recordings for the nine webinars can be accessed at 2021/22 CBME Webinar Series – Recording Archives.  We recently spent some time reviewing the rich feedback generously provided by attendees at each  of these nine sessions.

A few observations about the 2021-2022 webinar series:

  • Registration numbers remained high throughout the year  (up to 600 for a single webinar) suggesting that there is substantial and ongoing interest in a broad range of topics related to competency-based education in the health professions.  Increasing registration and attendance numbers may also reflect a ”new normal” of educators across the world coming together for brief CPD sessions delivered via online platforms. 
  • Five countries – Canada, the United States, Switzerland , Germany and the Netherlands – were represented among facilitators and speakers, with Canada and the United States heavily outnumbering the other three countries.  Future opportunities could be focused on further expanding the international scope of  presenters.
  • The webinars focused on the education and training of MD-degree doctors but the scope of health professions education programs exploring implementation of CBE extends well beyond the education and training of that group. Our educator colleagues in osteopathic medicine, nursing and pharmacy – among other health professions (including veterinary medicine)  – have much to contribute.
  • There is no single ”ideal format” for these webinars – attendees appreciated a broad range of approaches – and topics  –  for the webinars, which ranged  from ”sitting in” on fireside chats among experts on the Tension between Formative and Summative Assesssment in CBME to a discussion of  Social determinants of Health, Antiracism and CBME  in the context of the recent  development and implementation of an entrustable professional activity (EPA) framework to promote equity and antiracism across the continuum of education and practice.3 
  • There is growing interest in the more intentional use of technology and data to accelerate the adoption of CBME and deliver on the promise of CBME.  This past year’s webinars highlighted this, and included sessions on, ”Leveraging New Capabilities: Use of Natural Language Processing in Support of CBME”, ”EPA Assessments: Examining Initial Data Collection for Process Improvement“, and ”Competency  Committees in Undergraduate Medical Education” among others.   
  • Great facilitators and great speakers truly cover the full continuum – from undergraduate learners to long-established, world-renowned, widely recognized leaders in CBME. As we think about learners becoming the next generation of leaders, it’s well worth reading the recent publication by Englander and his colleagues entitled, ” Coproducing health professions education: a prerequisite to coproducing health care services? 4
  • The Chat feature in the Zoom platform allowed for real-time resource-sharing – both those resources provided by the presenters and facilitators,  and those resources contributed ad hoc by attendees at the webinar.  The live Chat continues to demonstrate its utility as a major ”added value” to our virtual meetings and webinars. 
  • There is no universally agreed-upon optimal duration for the webinar sessions. While some suggested that the webinar could be extended to 90 minutes;  most appreciated the ”fit” of a 60 minute webinar in their daily schedules. As a result, the 60 minute format will be retained for the 2022-2023 series.
  • Although information about upcoming webinars is distributed widely, many first-time attendees at each webinar told us they learned of the webinar via email from a colleague.  So keep spreading the word!

What’s in store for the 6th webinar series in 2022-2023?  We have passed the baton to the very capable hands of Jonathan Amiel (@jmamd), Adelle Atkinson (@AtkinsonAdelle) and David Turner to organize 2022-2023 webinars. Registration is already open for the first webinar (September 12, 2022) Revisiting a “CBME Research Agenda” 5 years later and will open soon for a subsequent webinar on “The World Health Organization (WHO) new Global competency framework for universal health coverage.”5 Please consider sharing information about upcoming webinars with colleagues who otherwise may not know about the CBME webinar series) and send your ideas for future sessions to icbme@royalcollege.ca.

The CBME community is an inspiring collaborative group of colleagues.  Any success past and future webinar series have experienced is due to this engaged community’s passion for an outcomes-focused and patient-focused approach to training and assessment.  Our role organizing the 2021-2022 webinar series was encouraged and supported by numerous CBME leaders and the also the staff at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, in particular. Dr. Jason Frank, Dr. Linda Snell and Ms. Melanie Agnew and Ms. Jackie Conboy. We are grateful for their support.  

Dorothy A Andriole, MD is Senior Director of Medical Education Research at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Michael Barone, MD is Vice President of Competency Based Assessment at the National Board of Medicine Examiners (NBME).


1. Ryan MS, Holmboe ES, Chandra S.  Competency-Based Medical Education: Considering Its Past, Present, and a Post–COVID-19 Era, Academic Medicine. 2022: 97 (3S): S90-S97. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004535

2. The Coalition for Physician Accountability’s Undergraduate Medical Education -Graduate Medical Education Review Committee (UGRC) Recommendations for Comprehensive Improvement of the UME-GME Transition. Coalition for Physician Accountability. August 2021. Available at https://physicianaccountability.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/UGRC-Coalition-Report-FINAL.pdf    Accessed July 18 2022.

3. The American Board of Pediatrics. Entrustable Professional Activity revised to set anti-racism as professional standard. Available at https://www.abp.org/news/press-releases/entrustable-professional-activity-revised-set-anti-racism-professional-standard  Accessed July 18 2022.

4. Englander R, Holmboe E, Batalden P et al. Coproducing Health Professions Education: A Prerequisite to Coproducing Health Care Services? Academic Medicine. 2020: 95 (7): 1006-1013 doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003137

5. World Health Organization. Global competency framework for universal health coverage. Available at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240034686  Accessed July 18, 2022.  

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