Assessment System

At the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, our ultimate goal for assessment is to help students move from the comfort zone to the learning zone, without hitting the panic zone (see Figure 1). Without assessments of learning, it is difficult to move out of the comfort zone to optimize learning.

Figure 1. Zones of Learning

Our course assessments push students to their optimum performance without creating unnecessary stress through our pass/fail assessment structure, where every final course grade is solely pass or fail. Pass/fail assessments in medical education generally have been shown to decrease stress and improve well-being with similar overall performance. 

All assessments are directly tied to the University of Kentucky Competencies or Objectives (see Figure 2). These competencies link into the 13 core entrustable professional activities for entering residency.

Throughout the UK College of Medicine curriculum, students undergo both formative and summative assessments to prepare them for each next step in their education and ultimately for their residency. Via formative assessment, students receive feedback to help improve their performance during courses. Summative feedback builds on this by evaluating performance at the end of a course to ensure students are meeting competency standards as they advance in their medical training. Student performance is regularly reviewed with additional assistance and coaching offered to students when needed. 

In the Core Principles phase our students are assessed via a wide variety of means including:

  • Completion of clinical experiences

  • Written assignments

  • Multiple choice formative quizzes

  • Multiple choice exams, including the USMLE Step 1 exam at the end of the phase

  • Evidence-based medicine projects

  • Objective structured clinical experiences (OSCEs) with standardized patients (Link to SP Page)

  • Faculty evaluations based on small group discussions and interactions with standardized patients and actual patients

  • Completion of direct observations of clinical skills

In the Application and Advanced Development phases our students are assessed via a wide variety of means including:

  • Faculty and resident evaluations of clinical performance

  • Faculty and resident direct observations of clinical skills

  • Multiple choice formative quizzes

  • Multiple choice exams, including NBME subject exams (‘shelf’ exams) and the USMLE Step 2 CK exam

  • Objective structured clinical experiences (OSCEs) with standardized patients (Link to SP Page)

  • Written and verbal presentations of clinically relevant topics

  • Faculty evaluations of clinical simulation performance  


UKCOM Clinical Simulation 

Clinical simulation plays an important role in our curriculum and assessment to further develop and refine clinical skills while promoting teamwork and collaboration. From assisting in the learning of the physical exam to practicing clinical skills, and finally to gaining experience managing a declining patient in a team-based approach, clinical simulation plays an important role in ensuring clinical competence in our students as they progress through the curriculum. 

Each four-year campus has its own top-of-the line simulation space with state-of-the-art low and high-fidelity clinical simulators. 

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