Background: Historically, medically trained experts have served as judges to establish a minimum passing standard (MPS) for mastery learning. As mastery learning expands from procedure-based skills to patient-centered domains, such as communication, there is an opportunity to incorporate patients as judges in setting the MPS. Objective: We described our process of incorporating patients as judges to set the MPS and compared the MPS set by patients and emergency medicine residency program directors (PDs). Methods: Patient and physician panels were convened to determine an MPS for a 21-item Uncertainty Communication Checklist. The MPS for both panels were independently calculated using the Mastery Angoff method. Mean scores on individual checklist items with corresponding 95% confidence intervals were also calculated for both panels and differences analyzed using a t test. Results: Of 240 eligible patients and 42 eligible PDs, 25 patients and 13 PDs (26% and 65% cooperation rates, respectively) completed MPS-setting procedures. The patient-generated MPS was 84.0% (range 45.2-96.2, SD 10.2) and the physician-generated MPS was 88.2% (range 79.7-98.1, SD 5.5). The overall MPS, calculated as an average of these 2 results, was 86.1% (range 45.2-98.1, SD 9.0), or 19 of 21 checklist items. Conclusions: Patients are able to serve as judges to establish an MPS using the Mastery Angoff method for a task performed by resident physicians. The patient-established MPS was nearly identical to that generated by a panel of residency PDs, indicating similar expectations of proficiency for residents to achieve skill "mastery."
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