- EPAs —
- entrustable professional activities
As clinical teachers, we look for ways to inspire medical students to reach for excellence in their practice of medicine. Entrustable professional activities, or EPAs, can help us do just this. This article, next in the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics series on clinical teaching, provides an introduction to EPAs. Clinical teachers have always made decisions about which tasks to entrust to medical students and EPAs bring that important experience and judgment into a framework that organizes students’ learning. EPAs have been conceptualized and written for residents, fellows, physician assistants, and, more recently, medical students.
What Are Entrustable Professional Activities?
Entrustable professional activities (EPAs) provide a framework for describing what medical students are expected to be able to do before graduation from medical school. They break down the work of a doctor into tasks, such as taking a history, forming a differential diagnosis, or recognizing a sick patient and initiating treatment. The word “entrustable” is part of this framework because most physicians, when working with a learner, have asked themselves, consciously or unconsciously, “Do I trust this learner to do that?” And, only if the answer is “yes” do they allow the learner to do the task. So, although EPAs sound new (and potentially confusing), they are built on a foundation that physicians have intuitively used. After working with a student, for instance, and watching him or her conduct histories and physical …
Address correspondence to Janice Hanson, PhD, EdS, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 13123 E. 16th Ave, B-158, Aurora CO 80045. E-mail: