University of Pittsburgh

Learning Objectives of the MD Curriculum

Curriculum Committee, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Revised 2017

The curriculum of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is intended to foster the development of the competencies that the faculty considers to be essential for attainment of the MD degree and for graduates to enter the next stage of professional training.  The educational objectives are as follows:

  1. Describe the normal structure and function of the human body, at levels from molecules to cells to organs, to the entire organism.
  2. Describe the major pathological processes and the biological alterations they cause.
  3. Identify basic principles of human behavior.
  4. Integrate basic science concepts with clinical reasoning.
  5. Establish and maintain appropriate therapeutic relationships with patients.
  6. Obtain a sensitive and thorough medical history.
  7. Perform a sensitive and accurate physical examination.
  8. Perform general clinical procedures.
  9. Participate in discussions and decision-making with patients and families.
  10. Clearly communicate medical information in spoken and written form.
  11. Develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to practice the basic principles of prevention.
  12. Demonstrate sound clinical reasoning.
  13. Appropriately assess patients with common signs and symptoms.
  14. Appropriately use testing to guide diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.
  15. Diagnose and demonstrate basic understanding of common diseases and conditions.
  16. Describe therapeutic options and participate in the care of patients with common problems.
  17. Recognize acute life-threatening medical problems and initiate care.
  18. Develop the knowledge and exhibit the skills necessary to assist in the management of chronic diseases.
  19. Participate in care in a variety of settings.
  20. Develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to provide culturally competent care.
  21. Use information and educational technology to facilitate research, education and patient care.
  22. Incorporate ethical and legal principles in clinical practice and research.
  23. Demonstrate professional behaviors.
  24. Work effectively with others as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group.
  25. Develop skills to become physician leaders.
  26. Develop skills for scholarly investigation, pursuit of new knowledge and transmission of knowledge to others.
  27. Demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning.
  28. Identify and avoid common sources of medical errors.
  29. Develop an understanding of the quality improvement methods commonly used in healthcare.
  30. Explain the interface between medical practice and health systems, including the related economic and public policy issues.
  31. Describe health planning for communities and populations.
  32. Develop an understanding of the impact of nonmedical determinants of health on health outcomes and health equity.
  33. Develop an understanding of value as it applies to health care.

These high level objectives serve as a guide for establishing curriculum content. Together with a set of more detailed sub-objectives, they provide a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the educational program.  These objectives also constitute the basis for curriculum development, including development of objectives for individual courses and development of plans for evaluation of students. 

To facilitate correlating the School's objectives to the essential competencies, the Good Medical Practice – USA competencies were used.  Good Medical Practice - USA represents a next-generation elaboration on the ACGME physician competencies, with an extended set of definitions under each general competency.  These definitions provide enhanced clarity about what is meant by each of the competencies. In 2017, these educational objectives were revised in keeping with AAMC EPA initiatives and evolving concepts in basic, clinical and health care science.