Competence committees: how they deliberate

Different contexts and cultures within programs and institutions mean that there is no single approach to running a competence committee. While you are free to choose or design your own approach, the following is the Royal College’s recommended model.

Competence committees have a mandate to monitor each trainee’s developmental progress and make recommendations to the residency program committee (RPC) on when the resident is ready to move on to the next “stage” of training. The reporting back to the RPC is typically done through the Program Director.

The following table highlights the roles of both the competence committee and the RPC.


Competence CommitteeResidency Program Committee
  • Reviews resident portfolios and makes recommendations to the PD and/or RPC.
  • Advises on individual learner needs apparent from the assessment process
  • Advises on issues of curriculum or assessment in the patterns they see from the data
  • Ratifies resident status recommendations of the competence committee
  • Sets individual learning plans
  • Sets residency curriculum and improvements
  • Responsible for curriculum program review and evaluation

Resident’s data

Data on each resident must be stored in an electronic portfolio system and is accessed by the competence committee to inform their decisions. The data is also used by the resident to document and plan their progress.

Depending on your school, the systems, data and reports may look different.

Portfolio review

The Royal College recommends that at each competence committee meeting, members of the competence committee serve as primary reviewers of a limited number of resident portfolios. This will ensure that each resident’s portfolio is given a thorough review.

What is reviewed?

  • EPA observations
  • Analytics Reports (ARs)
  • Other objects
  • Other assessment observations (e.g., MSF, text)

Prior to the meeting, the primary reviewer should review the resident’s portfolio, read the observations and other assessment data and determine if the trainee is achieving appropriate standards for their stage of training. At the competence committee meeting the primary reviewer should lead a formal discussion on the resident’s progress. The committee will consider all available evidence to inform progression recommendations.

Mock Competence Committee Cases for Practice Deliberation

This online activity is meant to provide direction and support for competence committee deliberations. It includes several case scenarios for competence committee members to review and discuss as a group. These cases represent common issues/concerns that a competence committee may encounter when reviewing and discussing resident files. See the “Facilitator Guide” within the activity for more information on how to use this resource. Click here to open the activity: Mock Competence Committee Cases for Practice Deliberation.

Managing a competence committee

Status recommendations