Investigation of trainee and specialist reactions to the mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise in anaesthesia: implications for implementation
Background The mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise (mini-CEX) is a workplace-based assessment which may be useful in anaesthesia training. However, its value depends on how supervisors use it with their trainees. This study analyses experience with the mini-CEX after its introduction into anaesthesia departments in our institution.Methods We conducted surveys, focus groups, and interviews with trainees and specialists. Data were recorded, transcribed, and entered into NVivo 8. Themes were identified and data coded into these themes.Results We identified six themes: assessor factors included skills needed to perform the assessments, influences on scoring decisions, and effects on the specialist–trainee relationship; trainee factors related to impact on trainee performance and value at the different training levels; teaching and learning included the effect of focused observation on structuring workplace learning; feedback described how the mini-CEX changed feedback and what was considered useful; mini-CEX process included implementation, initiation of assessments and case selection; and use in assessment included comparisons with existing assessments and the ability to identify poor performers.Conclusions Mini-CEX formalized the supervisory relationship, promoting educational interactions. During the observation period, trainees took responsibility for decisions, and specialists learnt more about their abilities. The structured format broadened the scope of feedback and made it easier to address performance gaps. We identified factors that facilitated or hindered implementation, or limited effective feedback and the ability to address poor performance. From this analysis, we propose strategies for the implementation of mini-CEX, and recommendations for assessor training to improve the quality and value of the assessments.