Templates and Examples:  

Phase I: Supporting a learner on the competency trajectory

Early identification of a learner’s competency gaps or areas for development has always been a challenge in any residency training program. This has become even more significant in the recent years due to the changing profile of learners.


To assure quality in education and a standardized approach, all training organizations require benchmarks for residency programs. Over the last ten years, professional medical associations within Canada and around the world have attempted to set out a framework of core competencies around which medical trainees will learn the art and science of medicine. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada developed the CanMEDS framework of seven essential physician competencies, to which the Undergraduate Program at the University of Ottawa added "Person" to bring in the dimension of mindfulness and self-knowledge. In 2009, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) adopted CanMEDS-FM as the educational framework for Family Medicine residency training; this forms the basis for the competencies delineated on this site:

  • Medical Expert
  • Communicator
  • Collaborator
  • Leader
  • Health Advocate
  • Scholar
  • Professional
  • Person

Identifying a need for support

Some learners need additional support in order to attain or improve these competencies. It is not always easy to identify where learners are falling short or can develop. As a preceptor you may have a feeling that there is an issue with a particular learner but you may not be able to precisely label the concern. The following questions will help you identify whether there is a significant issue that signifies the learner requires additional support:

  • What concerns have been voiced about this learner?
  • Who voiced these concerns?
  • Did this individual directly observe these concerns?
  • Did the context in which the learner was observed have any impact on the concerns?
  • Are these concerns important? (e.g., is the issue in question something of minimal importance, such as choosing between equally effective antibiotics, or something significant, such as recognizing an acutely ill patient)
  • Are the concerns directly related to the individual learner’s personal situation? (e.g., their physical health, mental health, current personal stressors or distractors)
  • Are the concerns related to the supervisor? (e.g., teaching style mismatch, feedback issues, unclear expectations)
  • Are the concerns related to the system (institution)? (e.g., poor call schedule, lack of orientation, too many competing demands)
  • What competencies in the CanMEDS roles are the concerns related to?
  • How have these concerns been conveyed to the learner? What was the learner’s response to this?

In addition, the Overcoming Challenges section provides a tool to help residents and preceptors define the problem by examining the different personal, professional, and situational challenges that learners and preceptors can face during residency.

If the learner requires additional support, move on to Phase II of the Academic Support Process to develop a support plan.

Medical Expert

Residents must demonstrate established and up-to-date knowledge in the breadth required for effective patient-centred care in family medicine. The resident must be able to apply this knowledge effectively to make appropriate clinical decisions, appreciating each unique patient context and preferences.


Residents must be able to communicate effectively with patients, families, and healthcare staff by demonstrating abilities in effective information exchange and collaboration. Skills include appropriate use of medical records, use of patient-centred communication throughout patient encounter, effective collaboration within a healthcare team to achieve the best patient care, as well as advocacy to improve the well-being of individual patients, communities, and populations.


Residents must be able to work as a member of a healthcare team, being skilled as both a leader and collaborator with the goal of providing the best patient care.


Residents must be able to understand the complexities of the broader healthcare system and uniquely apply resources for optimal patient care. Within this larger system, the resident must learn how to effectively manage his or her own practice and career.

Health Advocate

Residents must be able to advocate for individual, community, and population needs to advance health for all.


Residents must recognize that mastery in Family Medicine is a lifelong pursuit. Skills necessary to pursue this goal include self-reflection, ability to critically evaluate information, and participate in ongoing learning activities. As teachers, residents must be able to translate and disseminate medical knowledge to patients, colleagues, and the wider community.


Residents must demonstrate a high standard of professional behaviour and commitment to ethical practice.


Residents must demonstrate a commitment to their own personal health and how it relates to sustainable practice.

Welcome to the Academic Support Process website

Which version of the site do you want to view?

  • uOttawa Family Medicine preceptors click here
  • Preceptors not affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine at uOttawa click here


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