Barriers and facilitators to program directors’ use of the medical education literature: a qualitative study



It is unclear how often frontline clinical teachers are using this literature and its evidence base in teaching and assessment. Our study purpose was to examine postgraduate program director perspectives on the utilization and integration of evidence-based medical education literature in their teaching and assessment practices.


The authors conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with a convenience sample of current and former program directors from across Canada. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed inductively to distil pertinent themes.


In 2017, 11 former and current program directors participated in interviews. Major themes uncovered included the desire for time-efficient and easily adaptable teaching and assessment tools. Participants reported insufficient time to examine the medical education literature, and preferred that it be ‘synthesized for them’. (i.e., Best evidence guidelines). Participants recognised continuing professional development and peer to peer sharing as useful means of education about evidence-based tools. Barriers to the integration of the literature in practice included inadequate time, lack of financial compensation for teaching and assessment, and the perception that teaching and assessment of trainees was not valued in academic promotion.


Faculty development offices should consider the time constraints of clinical teachers when planning programming on teaching and assessment. To enhance uptake, medical education publications need to consider approaches that best meet the needs of a targeted audiences, including frontline clinical teachers. This may involve novel methods and formats that render evidence and findings from their studies more easily ‘digestible’ by clinical teachers to narrow the knowledge to practice gap.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Asif Doja

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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