The differences of learning experiences in the workplace put challenges on the assessment: the assessment programme should be aligned with the general competency framework of the curriculum and also fit to the differences in learning contexts of the workplace. We used van der Vleuten's programmatic assessment model to develop a workplace-based assessment programme for final year clerkships. We aimed to design a programme that stimulates learning, supports assessment decision, is feasible and non-bureaucratic. The first experiences with the programme show that students think that the programme has high learning value and the assessment is sufficiently robust. Many of the commonly reported weaknesses of work-based assessment (not a good fit with the educational context, too complex, too bureaucratic and too much work) were not mentioned by the students. © 2012 Informa UK Ltd.