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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Constructing core competency indicators for clinical teachers in Taiwan: a qualitative analysis and an analytic hierarchy process

Ai-Tzu Li1 and Jou-Wei Lin23

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, National Chung-Cheng University, 168 University Road, Min-Hsiung (621), Chia-Yi County, Taiwan

2 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei (100), Taiwan

3 Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital Yun-Lin Branch, 579 Yun-Lin Road, Section 2, Dou-Liou City (640), Yun-Lin County, Taiwan

BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:75  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-75

Published: 11 April 2014



The objective of this study was to construct a framework of core competency indicators of medical doctors who teach in the clinical setting in Taiwan and to evaluate the relative importance of the indicators among these clinical teachers.


The preliminary framework of the indicators was developed from an in-depth interview conducted with 12 clinical teachers who had previously been recognized and awarded for their teaching excellence in university hospitals. The framework was categorized into 4 dimensions: 1) Expertise (i.e., professional knowledge and skill); 2) Teaching Ability; 3) Attitudes and Traits; and 4) Beliefs and Values. These areas were further divided into 11 sub-dimensions and 40 indicators. Subsequently, a questionnaire built upon this qualitative analysis was distributed to another group of 17 clinical teachers. Saaty’s eigenvector approach, or the so-called analytic hierarchy process (AHP), was applied to perform the pairwise comparisons between indicators and to determine the ranking and relative importance of the indicators.


Fourteen questionnaires were deemed valid for AHP assessment due to completeness of data input. The relative contribution of the four main dimensions was 31% for Attitudes and Traits, 30% for Beliefs and Values, 22% for Expertise, and 17% for Teaching Ability. Specifically, 9 out of the 10 top-ranked indicators belonged to the “Attitudes and Traits” or “Beliefs and Values” dimensions, indicating that inner characteristics (i.e., attitudes, traits, beliefs, and values) were perceived as more important than surface ones (i.e., professional knowledge, skills, and teaching competency).


We performed a qualitative analysis and developed a questionnaire based upon an interview with experienced clinical teachers in Taiwan, and used this tool to construct the key features for the role model. The application has also demonstrated the relative importance in the dimensions of the core competencies for clinical teachers in Taiwan.

Medical education; Clinical teachers; Core competency; Questionnaires; Analytic hierarchy process