“Soft” assessment—an oxymoron?

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 20 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1243
  1. Murray Lough, assistant director (
  1. 1 NHS Education for Scotland, Glasgow G3 8BW

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!

    R Burns, 1798

    The desire to assess the “softer” parts of practice is strong. In addressing this ambition, many of the tensions and controversies surrounding the assessment process are thrown into sharp focus. Exactly how one defines soft practice for the jobs carried out by, say, general practitioners or orthopaedic surgeons is open to wild speculation. One key message of the paper by Evans et al is the importance of those being assessed having a stake in their assessment; this may be the “missing link” that could make the assessment process less threatening.

    Assessment has to be rigorous, not least because it should be …

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