Back to Blog

What’s in an EPA?

Last updated: July 15, 2020
Author: Jason Ladicos
What's in an EPA

I’ve read two interesting and practical articles about entrustable professional activities (EPAs) recently. The first article gives some great insights into how EPAs relate to each other, to training levels, and competency milestones. The second article which I came across from the KeyLime Podcast (episode 91) shares the experiences of a few Canadian Family Medicine Programs as they implemented EPAs.

There is much that the authors of the two articles agree upon. For example, both articles share a similar outlook on how competency milestones influence different levels of entrustment decisions. For example, to reach an oversight-only level of entrustment for a given EPA, a learner needs to have achieved the third milestone of a Medical Knowledge competency.

One of the challenges of EPAs is thinking about the information that someone making a summative entrustment decision needs to see. Clearly defined rules such as competency attainment at a given milestone provide some insight into some of what we need to do in One45.

I thought that the article by Ten Cate et al. did a great job at illustrating some of the other relationships between EPAs and the competency framework. Of particular interest to me was the concept that EPAs can be nested within one another, so that the EPAs a medical student is working to achieve fit into a broader set of EPAs for an intern, junior resident, and so on. The article also lays out how levels of entrustment might be restricted by level of training, which was a new concept for me.

I also learned something new from the article by Schultz et al. about how an EPA can by linked to phases of a clinical encounter. In their work, levels of entrustment are described, not just for the EPAs as a whole, but at each step of a clinical encounter, from hypothesis and history to treatment and follow-up. I haven’t seen this additional level of detail for entrustment described elsewhere, and it will be interesting to see what other creative additions people make to EPAs as they start to integrate them into their assessment practice.

Are there any other rules for entrustment not described in either of these articles that you’ve seen come up in your own practice, or elsewhere in the literature? 

Jason Ladicos

About Jason Ladicos

Jason is One45's Product Designer. Having provided technical support for a number of web-based projects at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine early in his career, he has a hands-on understanding of the unique needs of medical school users. Jason has been involved in One45's user interface design since 2002 and he is an invited expert in the Medbiquitous Competencies Working Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *