Competencies Required of the Contemporary Physician

  1. mededcover_smDemonstrate in practice a set of personal and professional attributes that enable independent performance of the responsibilities of a physician and adaptation to the evolving practice of medicine. These include:
  • Humanism, compassion and empathy.
  • Commitment to collegiality and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Engagement in continuing and lifelong self-education.
  • Awareness of a personal response to one’s personal and professional limits.
  • Engagement in community and social service.
  • Commitment to high ethical standards for personal and professional conduct.
  • Knowledge of legal standards and commitment to legal conduct.
  • Awareness of economic issues in clinical practice.
  • Cultural competency in clinical practice and professional relationships.

2. Apply the scientific basis of medicine to:

  • Current clinical practice.
  • The analysis and further expansion of medical knowledge and understanding.

3. Engage and communicate with a patient, develop a student-patient relationship, and communicate with others in the professional setting, using interpersonal skills to build relationships for the purpose of information gathering, guidance, education, support, collaboration and the provision of individualized patient care.

  • Competency goals 1-3 describe abilities that students may already possess to some extent before beginning their medical education. The undergraduate medical education experience should provide them with opportunities to further develop and apply these competencies within the context of clinical care learning.

4. Take a clinical history, both focused and comprehensive.

5. Perform a mental and physical examination.

6. Select, justify and interpret selected clinical tests and imaging.

7. Explain the rationale for and be able to perform a variety of basic clinical procedures.

8. Record, present, research, analyze and manage clinical information.

  • Competency goals 4-8 represent specific individual clinical skills activities that are performed in any medical encounter.

9. Diagnose and explain clinical problems in terms of pathogenesis, develop a basic differential diagnosis, and demonstrate clinical reasoning and problem identification.

10. Identify, select, and justify clinical interventions in the natural history of disease, including basic preventive, curative and palliative strategies.

11. Formulate a prognosis about the future events of an individual’s health and illness based upon an understanding of the patient, the natural history of disease, and upon known intervention alternatives.

  • Competency goals 9-11 reflect the three major tasks of individual patient care that involve the integration of competency goals 1-8: identifying and prioritizing clinical problems, understanding, selecting and implementing clinical interventions, and predicting the course of illness and anticipating future patient healthcare outcomes. These competency goals reflect the three major reasons for which patients seek clinical care.
  • The preceding competency goals are the core elements of clinical medicine. The final competency goal reflects the fact that in providing patient care, the physician must also consider the practical context within which medical care is delivered from the perspective of both the individual patient and the environment in which they live.

12. Provide clinical care within the practical context of a patient’s age, gender, personal preferences, family, health literacy, culture, religious perspective, and economic circumstances. This competency goal also includes consideration of relevant ethical, moral and legal perspectives including patient advocacy and public health concerns, as well as the resources and limitations of the healthcare system.


Adapted from findings of the 1998 University of Virginia School of Medicine Task Force on Medical School Objectives. Amended 2008. Revised to align with AAMC/ACGME Objectives, September 1, 2009. Revised 2013 – DJI. Curriculum Committee revision, January 2014.