The University of Ottawa (uOttawa) Faculty of Medicine in 2008 launched a revised undergraduate medical education (UGME) curriculum that was based on the seven CanMEDS roles (medical expert, communicator, collaborator, health advocate, manager, scholar, and professional) and added an eighth role of person to incorporate the dimension of mindfulness and personal well-being. In this article, the authors describe the development of an electronic Portfolio (ePortfolio) program that enables uOttawa medical students to document their activities and to demonstrate their development of competence in each of the eight roles. The ePortfolio program supports reflective practice, an important component of professional competence, and provides a means for addressing the “hidden curriculum.” It is bilingual, mandatory, and spans the four years of UGME. It includes both an online component for students to document their personal development and for student–coach dialogue, as well as twice-yearly, small-group meetings in which students engage in reflective discussions and learn to give and receive feedback.
The authors reflect on the challenges they faced in the development and implementation of the ePortfolio program and share the lessons they have learned along the way to a successful and sustainable program. These lessons include switching from a complex information technology system to a user-friendly, Web-based blog platform; rethinking orientation sessions to ensure that faculty and students understand the value of the ePortfolio program; soliciting student input to improve the program and increase student buy-in; and providing faculty development opportunities and recognition.