A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education

Offered Annually in Boston, MA

Next Course:
March 18 - 23, 2018

Course Brochure: course brochure PDF

Application Deadline:
November 15, 2017



Program Directors:

Thomas Aretz, MD
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Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD
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Constance Bowe, MD
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Louis Pangaro, MD

Learning Objectives

More and more, institutions are heeding the clarion call to become “data-driven” organizations. Yet their good intentions to collect and act upon assessment data fall flat if they lack a sound strategy to maximize their utility and institutional impact. The Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education program provides solutions to this institutional dilemma.

While systems thinking has yet to be widely applied to educational models, it has become a serious focus of attention for accreditation bodies worldwide. In this program participants learn how to design assessment strategies that collect valuable student, faculty and course data, while insuring that mechanisms are in place to synthesize, interpret, and direct that information to appropriate stakeholders for decision making and process improvement.

This program addresses information management models that will:
  • Identify and monitor the function of critical program processes and intermediate outcomes
  • Create feedback loops to insure that relevant assessment data are directed to individuals or groups positioned to make necessary adjustments
  • Have structures to gather data from disparate sources for analysis and interpretation in the context of the institution’s overall goals.

This is a valuable program for anyone charged with overseeing assessment at the student, program, or institutional level. It is a must for those preparing for accreditation or review.

Course Description The program's formal curriculum will address multiple aspects of academic assessment: learning and acquisition of competencies, teaching, education effort and scholarship, program efficacy and institutional alignment of resources and supports to further educational missions. Participant will leave the program prepared to develop and lead effective and comprehensive assessment efforts at their home institutions.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Assess the educational components of their home institution from a systems perspective
  • Identify the primary functions of individual educational components of their (sub) system
  • Identify the essential processes that need to occur at the interfaces between/among components within their educational system to add value to the quality of graduates
  • Outline the communication pathways that currently exist within their educational (sub) system
  • Examine the quality of their institution’s communication pathways, specifically for:
  • 1. the flow of multiple sources of performance data to individuals/groups (hubs) best positioned to interpret assessment information in context and
  • 2. the existence of direct feedback pathways to individuals/groups empowered to make corrections and adjustments
  • Design and implement a comprehensive systems-based assessment program to evaluate their institution’s performance in promoting a primary educational goal

The program will employ a variety of teaching formats, including topic presentations, large-group case discussions, small-group literature analysis, collaborative work groups, and expert panel discussions. In addition, participants will also have the opportunity to have one on one consultations with leaders in the assessment field.



The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Harvard Medical School designates this live activity for a maximum of 37.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada recognizes conferences and workshops held outside of Canada that are developed by a university, academy, hospital, specialty society or college as accredited group learning activities. Through an agreement between the American Medical Association and the European Union of Medical Specialists, physicians may convert AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ to an equivalent number of European CME Credits® (ECMECs®).

Harvard Medical School (HMS) adheres to all ACCME Essential Areas, Standards, and Policies. It is HMS’s policy that those who have influenced the content of a CME activity (e.g., planners, faculty, authors, reviewers, and others) disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial entities so that HMS may identify and resolve any conflicts of interest prior to the activity. These disclosures will be provided in the activity materials along with disclosure of any commercial support received for the activity. Additionally, faculty members have been instructed to disclose any limitations of data and unlabeled or investigational uses of products during their presentations.

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Scholar Experience

Harvard Macy Tweets

harvardmacy Free resource for creating unique presentation slides via @Whole_Patients #HMIeducators #HMIassessment twitter.com/whole_patients/status/864823228639870976
01:43PM May 17
harvardmacy Check out this @IAMSE Web Seminar Series on #remiediation in #meded - this week is about #systems #hmiassessment - bit.ly/2kZvhBv pic.twitter.com/2Xm3Has2bq
08:01PM Mar 13
harvardmacy What a great week! Welcoming our newest #hmiassessment 2017 scholars to our alumni community as they return home to enact systems change! pic.twitter.com/uYFcV6hhyH
01:23PM Mar 13
harvardmacy The May 3rd #HMIchat will focus on #assessment in #MedEd & #HPE - facilitated by #HMIassessment faculty including @AmjLinn & @Brent_Thoma pic.twitter.com/Fte8unsiAR
06:30PM Mar 10
harvardmacy Many thanks to Liz Armstrong, our very own 'Pied Piper' of Medical Education, for a wonderful week. #hmiassessment goo.gl/xVxAuS pic.twitter.com/a6K0pv6WU2
05:00PM Mar 10