8.1 Assessment Policy

Policy Statement
All required blocks, courses and clerkships have assessments that reflect the structure, content and learning objectives of the specific block, course or clerkship. The learning objectives and assessments are the same at all regional campuses and clerkship sites.

Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines

Performance Feedback and Evaluation
All blocks, courses, and clerkships are required to provide feedback to students on their performance during the course so that the students have adequate opportunity to improve by the end of the course. Evaluators should also provide feedback at the conclusion of the course to enable students to continue to improve in areas needing development as they move into subsequent blocks or clerkships. Block, clerkship and/or site directors are encouraged to speak with students who appear to be having significant difficulty in the courses based on their exam scores and/or participation in required components of the block or clerkship.

Feedback is delivered to students through examinations, evaluation forms, narrative commentary, statistical information, and/or direct conversation with faculty, residents, attendings, and/or preceptors. Evaluators may elaborate on areas of strength and areas needing development, including but not limited to:

  • Academic performance
  • Attendance
  • Clinical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Contribution
  • Data gathering
  • Dependability
  • Educational attitudes
  • Integration skills
  • Knowledge
  • Management skills
  • Motivation
  • Participation
  • Patient-centered care
  • Professional conduct
  • Professional relationships
  • Relationships with patients & families
  • Reporting skills
  • Responsibility

At the completion of the block, course, or clerkship, the director is responsible for submitting examination scores, the final grade percentage, and an overall assessment of the student’s development, which includes an evaluation of the skills listed above, formative and summative narrative comments, and an overall grade, to the School of Medicine registrar for processing. If applicable, evaluator concerns and/or comments on professional development may be included. The summative comments are for use in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). The grade percentages do not appear on the official transcript. The percentages conversion to Honors, High Pass, Pass, or Fail (as applicable) will appear in the students’ academic files.

Foundations Phase Curriculum
The required Foundations Phase blocks/courses are expected to incorporate content and formats relevant to the National Board of Medical Examiners subject examinations in order to enhance consistency in teaching, examination processes across regional campuses and courses, and to promote national learning objectives and appropriate testing skills for students’ preparation for USMLE Step 1.

Examination schedules are developed with careful consideration of students’ need for preparation time and cognizance of the University’s administrative holiday schedule and religious observances. With the exception of documented illness, personal or family emergencies or religious holiday observation, a student will not be permitted to take an examination at a different time than the scheduled time.

Note: See Foundations Grading & Assessment for more information.

Narrative Assessment in the Foundations Phase
Narrative assessment is provided for the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course at the completion of the Foundations Phase. It is provided in Foundations blocks and other courses when feasible, as outlined in the UWSOM Narrative Assessment Policy.

Midcourse/End of Course Feedback in the Foundations Phase
In the Foundations Phase blocks/courses, each examination or other form of evaluation, such as case studies, whether summative or formative, is expected to provide students with ongoing feedback in order to promote improvement and understanding.

Patient Care Phase and Explore & Focus Phase Curriculum
Each required clerkship has a specific clinical skill or professionalism/communication component incorporated into the teaching schedule. These Mini-Clinical Examinations (“Mini-CEX”) are administered to each student during the clerkship to assess the clerkship skills.

Required clerkships incorporate content and formats relevant to the National Board of Medical Examiners subject examinations in order to bring consistency to the teaching and examination process across clerkships and clerkship sites and to promote the incorporation of national learning objectives and appropriate testing skills for students’ preparation for USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge.

Narrative Assessment in the Clinical Phases
As stated in the Narrative Assessment Policy, space for narrative assessment is provided on the Student Performance Evaluation Form completed on each medical student at the conclusion of a clerkship. Faculty completing the forms are required to provide narrative assessment of the student in addition to ratings.

In required clerkships, final examinations are scheduled in a uniform manner to allow students’ equitable study and travel time. If an oral examination is given, clerkship directors are responsible for assuring there is adequate reliability in its administration. Other forms of examinations, such as the use of computer simulations or standardized patients, are established and managed within the clerkship department. All elements incorporated into the final grade, such as the final examination, required presentation, honors paper and/or other components, must be completed within the time period allocated for the course.

Mid-clerkship Feedback in the Clinical Phases
In required clerkships and clinical electives, the attending physician or clerkship director must provide midcourse feedback sessions to students in order to provide an opportunity to improve or to enhance areas of strength while in the clerkship.

Observed Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs)
OSCEs are administered periodically throughout the curriculum to assess the level of knowledge and clinical skills of students. If minimum performance standards are not met in any of the OSCEs designed to assess knowledge and skills, the student must successfully complete the recommended remediation plan in order to be approved to continue in the curriculum.

Assessment of Professional Development
Professionalism benchmarks are used to evaluate the professional development of students. Each student’s progress in demonstrating an understanding of professional standards appropriate to their level in medical school is assessed in the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course during the Foundations Phase and in each required clerkship and clinical elective during the Patient Care Phase and Explore and Focus Phase.

Management of concerns regarding a student’s development of professionalism will be assessed based on the severity, pattern, and significance of any problems that are noted, and will be referred to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Foundations Dean, College mentor, and/or Student Progress Committee, as appropriate, for review with the student. A pattern of concerns regarding professional behavior and conduct may be noted in the student’s Medical Student Performance Evaluation.

Recommendations from the Committee on Student Grading, Student Evaluation, and Professionalism that included guidelines for assessing students’ professional development and managing incidents of concern were approved in April 2007.

Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
The MSPE provides an overall assessment of the student’s medical school performance. Compiled in the summer prior to the student’s final year, it includes an assessment of the student’s professional behavior, grades and comments from course evaluations, the title of the student’s III requirement project, OSCE and USMLE completion status, and national honor society membership, if applicable.

Effective: Current
Last updated: April 9, 2021
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Curriculum Office, somgov@uw.edu; Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu