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Commentary: Shifting the Focus of Physician Assessment in the United States

Weiss, Kevin B. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182724f8a

There is a substantial international body of research that supports the value of the use of multisource feedback (MSF) for physician performance assessment. In this issue, Wright and colleagues add to this body of literature by examining two instruments designed to collect MSF from large cohorts of patients and colleagues in the context of physician performance evaluation in the United Kingdom. In the United States there is a reticence by leading physician organizations to adopt the use of patient and peer feedback in key evaluations such as maintenance of specialty board certification or licensure. This commentary explores this incongruity in light of the 50th anniversary of Thomas Kuhn’s seminal work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is concluded that, although the paradigm of using patient and peer evaluation in the United States appears to be shifting, the profession, by way of not providing MSF to the public, is losing its role in being the unique provider of public information on physician performance.

Author Information

Dr. Weiss is senior vice president for institutional accreditation, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and clinical professor of medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Weiss, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, 515 North State St., Chicago, IL 60654; e-mail:

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges