A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education

(Offered: virtually 2020 / live in Boston, MA 2021)

2020 Course:
(This live course was postponed from March 15-20, 2020)
New date for virtual course is October 18 - 23, 2020

2020 Virtual course application deadline
August 30, 2020

Course Brochure: course brochure PDF

2020 Virtual Course Fee:

Please note: Harvard Medical School has announced that all courses for Fall 2020 will be taught virtually. Acceptance emails are sent 2-3 weeks after the application deadline

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

Course Description

The Harvard Macy Institute’s A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education is designed to encourage participants to apply systems thinking in designing assessment programs to support the continuous quality improvement of students/trainees, faculty, and curricula at their academic health science institutions. The program incorporates multiple pedagogical methods, including interactive presentations, case discussions, small group journal clubs, institutional planning groups, selectives (focused mini-sessions/workshops on assessment tools and approaches), and consultations with faculty experts. During this intensive 6-day program, educators and administrators from diverse health science disciplines will be introduced to key concepts from system theory, best practices in educational assessment, and mini-workshops focused on specific assessment approaches. Throughout the program, participants will also have an opportunity to apply systems principles in case discussions depicting problematic assessment situations and to plan an assessment/evaluation design to implement at their home institution.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Assess the educational components of participants home institution from a systems perspective
  • Identify the primary functions of individual educational components of their system
  • Identify the essential processes that need to occur at the interfaces between/among components within the educational system to add value to the competencies of their of graduates
  • Outline the communications pathways that currently exist within the 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 institutions institution's performance in promoting a primary educational goal



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

The Harvard Medical School designates this live activity for a maximum of 38 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 Credit™ to an equivalent number of European CME Credits® (ECMECs®). Information on the process of converting AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ to ECMECs® can be found at: www.eaccme.eu..

*Note: AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is calculated based on submission of a preliminary agenda and may be subject to change.

Harvard Medical School (HMS) adheres to all ACCME Accreditation Criteria 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.

CME activities accredited by Harvard Medical School are offered solely for educational purposes and do not constitute any form of certification of competency. Practitioners should always consult additional sources of information and exercise their best professional judgment before making clinical decisions of any kind.

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Scholar Experience

Harvard Macy Tweets

HarvardMacy Have you had a chance to check out our prior "Behind the Curtain" interview with #HMIassessment course director Louis Pangaro? "How was the #RIME framework born & how can you apply it in #MedEd & #HPE ?" #MedEd #COVID19 #MedTwitter bit.ly/2pfussS pic.twitter.com/G03QYx9Lnh
04:04PM Apr 23
HarvardMacy Our #HMIAssessment course trains leaders to use of systems thinking in designing #assessment programs to support the continuous quality improvement of #MedEd at their healthcare institutions. Applications now accepted for October 2020! #MedTwitter #HPE bit.ly/1HCWqoi pic.twitter.com/gecYx1XLYK
12:00PM Apr 22
HarvardMacy Our director Elizabeth Armstrong & the Harvard Macy Institute Team shares this update about shifts to our upcoming course dates. #HMIEducators #HMIHCE #HMIAssessment #MedEd #COVID19 #MedTwitter bit.ly/39VLtND pic.twitter.com/wPEAXbFz3F
04:01PM Apr 13
HarvardMacy What are some best practices for distance education? Thanks to #HMIAssessment alum @AlexisLRossi1 for sharing! #MedEd #MedTwitter #HMICommunity #COVID19 bit.ly/3aVb6z1 pic.twitter.com/GEmMol4IGi
09:00PM Mar 14
HarvardMacy Due to #COVID19 domestic & international travel restrictions set by many universities and local hospital policies, @HarvardMacy leadership has postponed the #HMIAssessment course until October 2020. The health, safety, & well-being of our community is our top priority. #MedEd pic.twitter.com/HGcMrtmYDP
06:30PM Mar 06