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Competence by Design

The rationale for change

Canada’s medical education system is exceptional, but there are gaps and challenges within the current model that need to be addressed. Currently, we assume that the more time a learner spends on an activity, the more the learner absorbs and excels. Evidence suggests that our methods of training and lifelong learning can be improved — that’s where Competence by Design (CBD) comes in.

The benefits of focusing on learning instead of time

  • Ensures competence, but teaches for excellence
  • Supports physicians’ skills and abilities to evolve throughout practice — enhancing care
  • Responds to changing patient and societal needs
  • Addresses gaps in the current system, like the “failure to fail” culture of resident education
  • Reduces burden on faculties, promoting smoother credentialing and accreditation
  • Increases accountability and promotes transparency in training

CBD helps specialists

  • Graduate without knowledge gaps
  • Feel prepared for independent practice
  • Receive timely and effective assessments and feedback
  • Have a clear understanding of the learning objectives of their program
  • Maintain needed clinical practice time
  • Take a balanced approach to exam preparation
  • Understand when new abilities and skills are needed in practice


We are here to help you succeed with CBD. Contact us:

“The reality is that our existing training model is very old. The depth and breadth of information and skills that we expect our residents to learn now is much more substantial.”

— Erin D. Wright, MDCM, MEd, FRCSC; member of the Royal College Specialty Committee in Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery; professor, Department of Surgery, University of Alberta