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Specialisation, self-assessment and measuring competency
  1. Martin Whitehead
  1. Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital, Albion Street, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 5BN
  1. e-mail: martin.whitehead{at}

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CHRIS May and Simon Swift (VR, October 1, 2011, vol 169, p 367) refer to the studies and literature review by Ehrlinger and others (2008) on the cognitive bias known as illusory superiority. This work demonstrates that individuals who are less competent and less skilled at a task or their job often dramatically overestimate their competence at that task or their job. May and Swift correctly point out that if individuals often cannot reliably assess their own performance, then veterinary surgeons cannot be depended upon to assess their own competence accurately, as is required by the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct when it states that ‘All veterinary surgeons should recognise when a case is outside their area of competence and be prepared to refer it to a colleague whom they are satisfied is competent … ’.

Even for those unfamiliar with psychological studies, the phenomenon …

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