The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Outcome Project introduced 6 general competencies relevant to medical practice but fell short of its goal to create a robust assessment system that would allow program accreditation based on outcomes. In response, the ACGME, the specialty boards, and other stakeholders collaborated to develop educational milestones, observable steps in residents' professional development that describe progress from entry to graduation and beyond.
We summarize the development of the milestones, focusing on 7 specialties, moving to the next accreditation system in July 2013, and offer evidence of their validity.
Specialty workgroups with broad representation used a 5-level developmental framework and incorporated information from literature reviews, specialty curricula, dialogue with constituents, and pilot testing.
The workgroups produced richly diverse sets of milestones that reflect the community's consideration of attributes of competence relevant to practice in the given specialty. Both their development process and the milestones themselves establish a validity argument, when contemporary views of validity for complex performance assessment are used.
Initial evidence for validity emerges from the development processes and the resulting milestones. Further advancing a validity argument will require research on the use of milestone data in resident assessment and program accreditation.