Deliberate practice and mastery learning: Origins of expert medical performance

William Craig McGaghie*, Theresa Kristopaitis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Sullenberger's skill and leadership from the safe water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 are now legendary. This chapter uses Captain Sullenberger's flying expertise as an example and for inspiration. It amplifies the US Airways Flight 1549 story by addressing the history of education for clinical skill acquisition in medicine, and the definition and expression of expert medical performance. The chapter also discusses the origins of medical expertise in deliberate practice (DP) of cognitive, motor, social, conative and professional skills towards their acquisition and maintenance and the transfer of skills acquired in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings to patient care practices and patient outcomes. It uses the critical-realist approach to review, synthesise and report extant literature. Mastery learning (ML) requires 'excellence for all', knowledge and skill acquisition to high achievement standards without regard to learning time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearching Medical Education
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781118838983
ISBN (Print)9781118839201
StatePublished - Jul 24 2015


  • Captain Sullenberger
  • Clinical medical education
  • Clinical skill acquisition
  • Critical-realist approach
  • Deliberate practice
  • Deliberate practice
  • Expert performance approach
  • Mastery learning
  • Mastery learning
  • Medical education
  • Medical education research
  • Medical expertise
  • Translational education outcomes
  • Translational science
  • US Airways Flight 1549

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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