Timely Summative Evaluations

Summative evaluations rate a learner against performance criteria, typically covering a month-long rotation. Timely evaluations assist institution or program supervisors with promotion and remediation decisions, and also help learners make targeted improvement plans.

Final summative evaluations describe the cumulative performance of the learner, in a standardized format outlined by the sponsor institution. They are most helpful if they include written comments regarding learner strengths and weaknesses that are based on multiple direct observations.  Multiple points of assessment documentation preserves the evaluation, reinforces the criteria for easier use in the future, and prevents guesswork and superficial evaluations created by last-minute recall. Comments should be based on observed learner behaviors, not on learner attitudes, and should include specific examples.1-4

Faculty should compile notes from prior observations into a final evaluation describing how well the learner performed. Collect notes and input from all faculty and staff that observed the learner to further improve evaluations. Faculty must accurately summarize the collective assessments and comments, and grade the learner’s performance against required benchmarks.

Quick Tips

  • Schedule time to complete the task; look ahead at the learner calendar and block time for completion before the learner departs your location
  • Ask all observers to take notes in advance and with multiple learner encounters
  • Ask for input from all preceptors, clinic personnel, or employees that worked directly with the learner
  • Notify the program about performance problems prior to submitting final evaluation (ideally mid-clerkship)
  • Submit evaluations before the due date
  • Ensure that narrative comments are included and are congruent with rating scales

Erik Schweitzer, MD
Northwest Washington Family Medicine Residency, Bremerton, WA

Dana Nguyen, MD
Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

  1. Dudek N, Dojeiji S. Twelve tips for completing quality in-training evaluation reports. Medical Teacher. 2014;36(12):1038-1042. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2014.932897
  2. Chan T, Sherbino J. The McMaster Modular Assessment Program (McMAP): A Theoretically Grounded Work-Based Assessment System for an Emergency Medicine Residency Program. Acad Med. 2015;90:900–905.
  3. Fazio SB, Ledford CH, et al. Competency-Based Medical Education in the Internal Medicine Clerkship: A Report From the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine Undergraduate Medical Education Task Force. Acad Med. 2018;93:421–427.
  4. Lowry BN, Vansaghi LM, Rigler SK, Stites SW. Applying the Milestones in an Internal Medicine Residency Program Curriculum: A Foundation for Outcomes-Based Learner Assessment Under the Next Accreditation System. Acad Med. 2013;88:1665–1669.