Twelve tips for improving the quality of assessor judgements in senior medical student clinical assessments

Publication Name

Medical Teacher


Assessment of senior medical students is usually calibrated at the level of achieving expected learning outcomes for graduation. Recent research reveals that clinical assessors often balance two slightly different perspectives on this benchmark. The first is the formal learning outcomes at graduation, ideally as part of a systematic, program-wide assessment approach that measures learning achievement, while the second is consideration of the candidate’s contribution to safe care and readiness for practice as a junior doctor. The second is more intuitive to the workplace, based on experience working with junior doctors. This perspective may enhance authenticity in assessment decisions made in OSCEs and work-based assessments to better align judgements and feedback with professional expectations that will guide senior medical students and junior doctors’ future career development. Modern assessment practices should include consideration of qualitative as well as quantitative information, overtly including perspectives of patients, employers, and regulators. This article presents 12 tips for how medical education faculty might support clinical assessors by capturing workplace expectations of first year medical graduates and develop graduate assessments based on a shared heuristic of ‘work-readiness’. Peer-to-peer assessor interaction should be facilitated to achieve correct calibration that ‘merges’ the differing perspectives to produce a shared construct of an acceptable candidate.

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