Quality assurance in postgraduate pathology training the Dutch way: regular assessment, monitoring of training programs but no end of training examination

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It might seem self-evident that in the transition from a supervised trainee to an independent professional who is no longer supervised, formal assessment of whether the trainee knows his/her trade well enough to function independently is necessary. This would then constitute an end of training examination. Such examinations are practiced in several countries but a rather heterogeneous situation exists in the EU countries. In the Netherlands, the training program is not concluded by a summative examination and reasons behind this situation are discussed. Quality assurance of postgraduate medical training in the Netherlands has been developed along two tracks: (1) not a single testing moment but continuous evaluation of the performance of the trainee in ‘real time’ situations and (2) monitoring of the quality of the offered training program through regular site-visits. Regular (monthly and/or yearly) evaluations should be part of every self-respecting training program. In the Netherlands, these evaluations are formative only: their intention is to provide the trainee a tool by which he or she can see whether they are on track with their training schedule. In the system in the Netherlands, regular site-visits to training programs constitute a crucial element of quality assurance of postgraduate training. During the site-visit, the position and perceptions of the trainee are key elements. The perception by the trainee of the training program, the institution (or department) offering the training program, and the professionals involved in the training program is explicitly solicited and systematically assessed. With this two-tiered approach high-quality postgraduate training is assured without the need for an end of training examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-113
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Pathology
  • Postgraduate education
  • Quality assurance
  • examination

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