What supervisors say in their feedback: construction of CanMEDS roles in workplace settings

Renting, N., Dornan, T., Gans, R. O. B., Borleffs, J. C. C., Cohen-Schotanus, J. & Jaarsma, A. D. C., May-2016, In : Advances in Health Sciences Education. 21, 2, p. 375-387 13 p.

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The CanMEDS framework has been widely adopted in residency education and feedback processes are guided by it. It is, however, only one of many influences on what is actually discussed in feedback. The sociohistorical culture of medicine and individual supervisors' contexts, experiences and beliefs are also influential. Our aim was to find how CanMEDS roles are constructed in feedback in a postgraduate curriculum-in-action. We applied a set of discourse analytic tools to written feedback from 591 feedback forms from 7 hospitals, including 3150 feedback comments in which 126 supervisors provided feedback to 120 residents after observing their performance in authentic settings. The role of Collaborator was constructed in two different ways: a cooperative discourse of equality with other workers and patients; and a discourse, which gave residents positions of power-delegating, asserting and 'taking a firm stance'. Efficiency-being fast and to the point emerged as an important attribute of physicians. Patients were seldom part of the discourses and, when they were, they were constructed as objects of communication and collaboration rather than partners. Although some of the discourses are in line with what might be expected, others were in striking contrast to the spirit of CanMEDS. This study's findings suggest that it takes more than a competency framework, evaluation instruments, and supervisor training to change the culture of workplaces. The impact on residents of training in such demanding, efficiency-focused clinical environments is an important topic for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-387
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number2
Early online date5-Sep-2015
Publication statusPublished - May-2016


  • CanMEDS, Competency-based medical education, Feedback, Discourse analysis, Patient-centred care, Postgraduate training, Residency, Workplace learning, MEDICAL-EDUCATION, COMPETENCES, TEACHERS, ETHICS, DOCTOR

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