This is the third in a series of top tips for educators looking to assess students in challenging environments. We look at issues around observational assessments when the assessors in practice are clinicians or preceptors who work for the hospital, not for your institution, and you don't know in advance who they might be.
It is really useful to be observed and assessed by professionals when in practice – but frequently these observers will not be registered on the systems of the institution that is managing the practice observation process. For example, a university medical school may be managing their students’ observed assessments but it is usually not practical for them to maintain the details of every medical professional who may provide students with feedback in the placement hospitals and practices.
However it is important to be able to rely on the results of these observational assessments and we are often asked how the results of such assessments can be verified where the observer is unknown to the system. And how can we improve on the use of paper forms which can also be lost, damaged, tampered with, be illegible and which do not have any in-built verification process?
There are techniques which can be introduced to enable this ongoing flexibility and value of using “unknown” observers and we list here some of the approaches which could or should be considered in any service solution
We have also found that some institutions would like their “unknown” observers to be able to engage more closely with the assessment system for the individuals that they have observed and there is sometimes the requirements to consider the following additional options:
The overall effect of supporting the above processes is that it can provide a robust process for enabling the use of unknown observers in practice settings.
As we continue to work with a wide range of medical schools worldwide we will continue to share our experiences through this series of Top Tips.