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Qualification and teaching of peer-student tutors in undergraduate medical education: Does it affect the understanding and acquiring of CanMEDS competencies?

Cite this dataset

Brathuhn, Maike; Zimmermann, Anja; Enzenbach, Cornelia; Rotzoll, Daisy (2022). Qualification and teaching of peer-student tutors in undergraduate medical education: Does it affect the understanding and acquiring of CanMEDS competencies? [Dataset]. Dryad.


Objective: The Canadian Medical Education Directives for Specialists (CanMEDS), described by scientists of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, specify the competencies that medical students should acquire during their studies of human medicine. These include the skills of Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Manager, Professional, Health Advocate and Scholar. We investigated the opinion of former student tutors that are currently active as clinical residents to understand whether they acquired and applied the CanMEDS competencies more during their student tutoring activities or during their undergraduate medical training.

Methods: An online questionnaire with closed and open questions were distributed to residents with work experience as student tutors. A Likert scale was used to assess the relevance of each CanMEDS competency to their current employment and to evaluate the acquisition and application of each CanMEDS competency during undergraduate medical training in comparison to their peer-student tutor employment. We used the sign test for identify significant differences in the acquisition and application of CanMEDS competencies.

Results: Of one hundred and twenty-three tutors, twenty-four met the inclusion criteria and fourteen questionnaires were returned. Concerning acquiring the CanMEDS roles Collaborator, Communicator, Professional and Manager there was a significant difference in favour of peer-student tutor employment. Nearly all participants indicated that they noticed a general benefit from having worked as peer-student tutors.

Conclusion: We found that employment as a peer-student tutor is beneficial for the respondents in general and for the acquisition and application of several CanMEDS roles in particular.


The questionnaire applied was based on a previously published tool (7) and was modified according to study aims and consisted of six parts: 1) general information and demographical data, 2) information on former peer-student tutor employment, 3) information on current residency employment, 4) relevance of CanMEDS roles in daily activities as a resident, 5) CanMEDS roles acquired and applied in undergraduate medical training in general, and 6) CanMEDS roles specifically acquired and applied during employment at the Skills and Simulation Centre. Parts 4 thru 6 asked for a subjective assessment; for rating, a five-point Likert scale was used (CanMEDS professional roles were 1= fully acquired, 2= somewhat acquired, 3=neutral, 4=mostly not acquired, 5=not acquired at all).

The questionnaire was set up using EvaSys® software (version 7.1 Lueneburg, Germany). Data were analyzed descriptively and statistically using SPSS (version 12, Stanford, USA). For analysis of acquisition and application of CanMEDS roles, the sign-test was used. For data management and analysis of open-ended questions, MaxQDA software (version 12, Berlin, Germany) and Excel (version 2019) were used. Categorization and response frequency analysis was performed according to predefined principles (8): 1) categorization choice corresponds to the aim of the study, 2) categories are independent, clearly defined, complete and uniform, and 3) coding is conducted by two independent individuals. Analysis was based on establishing several categories (codes) to combine segments from participant responses and as a final step, to quantify the categorical responses. With a reliability of 87%, the elements of each open question were assigned to the defined categories by two independent researchers.

Usage notes

Only the answers to the questions that were used for the study were uploaded.

In the columns of the tables it is noted if the question was not answered by the participants.

Definition of terms:

POL - Problem-Oriented Learning

OSCE - Objective Structured Clinical Examination

0 = participant has not answered