University of Pittsburgh

Learning Objectives of the MD Curriculum

Curriculum Committee, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Revised 2010

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. Describe how the major pathologic processes affect the organ systems.
  4. Identify basic principles of human behavior.
  5. Integrate basic science concepts with clinical reasoning.
  6. Establish and maintain appropriate therapeutic relationships with patients.
  7. Obtain a sensitive, thorough medical history.
  8. Perform a sensitive and accurate physical exam.
  9. Perform general clinical procedures.
  10. Develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for culturally competent care.
  11. Participate in discussions and decision-making with patients and families.
  12. Work effectively with other providers in the health care arena.
  13. Clearly communicate medical information in spoken and written form.
  14. Develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to practice the basic principles of prevention.
  15. Practice personalized health planning for long-range goals.
  16. Describe health planning for communities and populations.
  17. Demonstrate sound clinical reasoning.
  18. Appropriately assess patients with common signs and symptoms.
  19. Appropriately use testing to help guide diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.
  20. Diagnose and demonstrate basic understanding of common diseases and conditions.
  21. Describe therapeutic options for and participate in the care of patients with common problems.
  22. Recognize acute life-threatening medical problems and initiate care.
  23. Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to assist in the management of chronic diseases.
  24. Participate in care in a variety of settings.
  25. Identify, and avoid common sources of medical errors.
  26. Recognize the challenges associated with reporting and disclosure.
  27. Use information and educational technology to facilitate research, education and patient care.
  28. Develop a critical understanding of the multiple factors that affect the practice of medicine, public health and research.
  29. Explain the interface between medical practice and health systems, including the related economic and public policy issues.
  30. Incorporate ethical principles in clinical practice and research.
  31. Demonstrate professional behaviors.
  32. Develop skills to become tomorrow's physician leaders.
  33. Develop skills for scholarly investigation, pursuit of new knowledge, and transmission of knowledge to others.
  34. Demonstrate commitment to life-long pursuit of learning.

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.  A detailed summary of GMP-USA is posted at the GMP-USA website.