Developing resident goals and objectives

Residency Program Insider, October 14, 2016

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Each resident clinical rotation must have accompanying goals and objectives that are based on the core competencies, subcompetencies, and Milestones for the given specialty. Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably but in reality have quite different definitions and purposes. Goals are broad statements of the ideal learner outcomes for a lecture, rotation, course, or program. The ACGME core competencies, for example, are goals. Goals are useful for linking pieces of curriculum together and providing a benchmark for achievement of leaners. Goals are lofty and expansive whereas objectives are more specific and measurable.

When writing goals for a learning activity, one must first reflect on the mission, vision, and values of the residency program, the department and/or division, and the rotation. How would you describe the ideal resident completing your rotation? Consider not only what they know but their behavior and values as they complete your program. Goals can be broad, sweeping general statements.

Objectives are the real building block of instruction; they prioritize and direct content, enable direct evaluation, and may help identify learning methods. Objectives should be much more specific than goals and include action language that sets the level of expectation of performance. Because rotation goals and objectives should generally be competency-based, the core competencies and their associated subcompetencies are a great starting point for creating meaningful goals and objectives for clinical rotations.

Source: The Residency Program Director’s Handbook

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