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August 26, 1988

Evaluating the Competence of Health Professionals

JAMA. 1988;260(8):1057-1058. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410080027003

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Since Sept 21, 1901, JAMA has published annually a special medical education issue that updates the most important events and information available on undergraduate, graduate, continuing, and allied health education. In 1988, a single theme that touches all these areas is emerging as the most controversial and important in the education of health professionals: evaluating competence. Related to this theme is the need to redefine what professional competence means and the need to look at existing mechanisms for evaluating competence.

The emphasis on competence arises from a growing demand for public accountability in all health professions, from the continuous increase in the cost of medical care, from the tremendous explosion in technology and new knowledge, and particularly from a growing concern about the importance of ethical behavior of health professionals.

Medicine has made spectacular contributions to our ability to survive and to our quality of life. Never before has medicine