Dr Tom Gale, Dr Sally Hanks, Harry Carter

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth University

Workshop description

Health professions education programmes commonly emphasise the development and assessment of specific competencies. These are often detailed in national guidance, presented as learning outcomes or mapped to competency frameworks such as: CANMEDS, General Medical Council (GMC) Outcomes for Graduates (for undergraduate education) and the recently published GMC  ‘Generic Professional Capabilities Framework’ (for postgraduate speciality training).

The educational concept of capability has been developed for use in professional education settings where graduates will not only have to demonstrate competence but also successfully perform their role in real life complex settings. This workshop will explore the concept of ‘capability’ and describe the development of a framework that may support authentic teaching, learning and assessment in these situations.

We will discuss whether competency based curricula adequately train our students / trainees to practice in today’s complex, ever changing healthcare environments and review whether current workplace based assessment methods including mini-CEX, MSF and video assessment tools are suitable for the assessment of capability.

We will work with a case study involving hybrid simulation designed to assess improvements in capability when performing intravenous cannulation, following dedicated human factors training.



During this interactive workshop, participants will draw on their own experiences of teaching, learning and assessment to:

  • Explore the relationship between ‘capability’ and competence.
  • Consider the skills and qualities that contribute to capability, such as the ability to problem-solve in complex situations, to adapt, innovate and deal with conflicting information.
  • Become familiar with a ‘capability framework’ and identify practical approaches for using this in assessment practice.

Finally, we will discuss whether and how capability should become assessed as a more explicit entity within undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.


  • Fraser S, Greenhalgh T. Coping with complexity: educating for capability. BMJ. 2001; 323: 799-803
  • Neve H, Hanks S. “When I say…….. Capability”. Medical Education 2016; 50: 610-611
  • O’Connell J., Gardner G. & Coyer F. Beyond competencies: using a capability framework in developing practice standards for advanced practice nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2014; 70: 2728–2735
  • General Medical Council. Developing a framework for generic professional capabilities, 2013.  http://www.gmcuk.org/4___pdf_54171073.pdf