Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
MD Program

Medical Education Program Objectives

Students at PSOM will graduate with the foundational medical knowledge and clinical skills to care for patients while being prepared to participate in improving the infrastructure and social constructs that impact the health of patients to promote health equity. Our students will graduate committed to the pursuit of lifelong growth and professional development. Given that new discoveries that impact our thinking about disease and treatment are emerging at an ever-increasing pace, our students will have a deep appreciation of the means through which new knowledge is generated and applied, allowing our students to create the medicine of tomorrow.

MK = Medical Knowledge • PC = Patient Care • ICS = Interpersonal Communication Skills • P = Professionalism • PBLI = Practice Based Learning and Improvement • SBP = Systems Based Practice

Pillar 1: Our students will develop foundational knowledge and be prepared to clinically care for patients.

They will ...

i. Describe the normal structure, function, and homeostatic mechanisms of human organ systems through the study of anatomy, biochemistry, cell and tissue biology, physiology, embryology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, and pharmacology. (MK)

ii. Recognize the response and clinical presentation of human organ systems to injury or dysfunction. They will be able to discern genetic and developmental abnormalities; nutritional, environmental, toxic and traumatic insults; and signs of systemic disease, infection, neoplasia, autoimmunity, psychosocial stressors, and aging. (MK)

iii. Examine how human organ systems can be protected from injury or dysfunction, determining how to minimize detrimental responses to injury or dysfunction. (MK)

iv. Explain the epidemiology of human disease, prevention, and treatment response, including differences between genetic factors and sociopolitical factors such as race, sex, gender, and social determinants of health. (MK)

They will ...

i. Gather relevant information from patients. (PC)
     a. Obtain an accurate medical history from the patient, medical records, or other ancillary sources that elicits all essential and relevant aspects of the history, including issues related to age, gender, genetic background, environment, health related behaviors and social determinants of health. (PC)
     b. Conduct a thorough and accurate physical exam as well as a focused exam when appropriate. (PC)

ii. Effectively use clinical information systems to retrieve patient-specific information or data to make clinical diagnoses. (PC)
     a. Synthesize information and use critical clinical reasoning and decision-making skills to identify and continually update a differential diagnosis including recognizing and initially triaging clinical emergencies. (PC)
     b. Interpret the pertinent clinical, laboratory, imaging, and pathologic manifestations of common diseases and injuries. (PC)
     c. Formulate a differential diagnosis that incorporates scientific principles and sound clinical reasoning. (MK, PC)

iii. Develop and document a diagnostic and therapeutic plan. (PC)
     a. Demonstrate the ability to screen for disease, prevent disease, and promote health. (PC)
     b. Construct appropriate management strategies for patients with common acute and chronic conditions, including medical, psychiatric, and surgical conditions; across care settings, including inpatient, emergency, ambulatory, telemedicine, and critical care demonstrating the ability to complete tasks in a prioritized, efficient and timely manner. (MK, PC)
     c. Formulate a treatment plan, demonstrating the ability to communicate the relative certainties of the differential diagnosis and the relative risks and benefits of outcomes and treatment options. (MK, PC)
     d. Demonstrate the ability to assess and manage pain and promote comfort in all phases of care (from birth to end of life). (PC)
     e. Perform basic technical procedures used by physicians in clinical practice including explaining procedure indications and contraindications, and obtaining informed consent. (MK, PC)
     f. Record clinical information and formulate orders directing further care of the patient. (PC, ICS)
     g. Use emerging technology as part of care delivery. (PC)

iv. Communicate with patients, families, and other health care professionals. (PC, ICS, SBP)
     a. Communicate accurately and effectively in writing, orally, and electronically, in a timely manner, including during transitions of care, using evidence-based communication frameworks. (PC, ICS, SBP)
     b. Communicate with patients and families using principles of shared decision making and family centered rounds, at an appropriate level of health literacy, across a broad range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds using medical interpreters when needed. (ICS)
     c. Communicate with patients and families in culturally appropriate ways regarding sensitive issues such as sexuality and sexual function, domestic violence, substance abuse, socio-economic and environmental obstacles to health, end-of-life issues, and other topics that affect patient well-being. (ICS)

They will ...

i. Participate in team-based interprofessional practice to deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, person-centered, and population-based health care. (PC)
     a. Assess and address the health care needs of patients and populations in the context of their own roles in different teams and settings and the roles of other health professionals. (SBP, PC)
     b. Practice team-based interprofessional care by communicating and acting in a way that establishes and maintains a climate of mutual respect, dignity, integrity, diversity, inclusiveness, and trust among all team members. (P, SBP, ICS)
     c. Define and demonstrate respect for the roles of other health care professionals and a willingness to collaborate with others in caring for individual patients and promoting the health of defined populations. (PC, P, SBP)

Pillar 2: Our students will recognize the infrastructure and social constructs of the health care system and be prepared to actively participate in its improvement.

They will ...

i. Define key stakeholders including health system administration, patients, providers, and payors in the setting of a multidisciplinary, interprofessional, team-based care-delivery model. (SBP)

ii. Evaluate how health systems structures, including variations in cost, payors, care-delivery settings, and provider and patient choices, influence health-related outcomes. (SBP)

iii. Apply cost-conscious and high-value care methodology to health care delivery. (PC, SBP)

iv. Compare and contrast academic, community-based, for-profit, and not-for-profit health care delivery platforms. (SBP)

v. Identify and mitigate barriers to health for patients by identifying appropriate patient care resources, health care team members, and community partners to address their needs. (PC, SBP)

They will ...

i. Acknowledge the importance of diversity in all medical fields and settings, as care delivery is optimized when providers more broadly represent their patient populations. (SBP)  

ii. Recognize and address conscious and unconscious bias, including racial bias, in themselves, in others, and in the health care delivery process and act to reduce and eliminate racism and all forms of biased behaviors. (P, SBP)

iii. Respond with empathy and support those harmed by interpersonal biases and structural inequality. (ICS, P)

iv. Display cultural humility and curiosity during all encounters. (PC, P, ICS)

v. Collaborate in creating and maintaining an inclusive, multidisciplinary, and interprofessional environment to deliver patient care across the care continuum. (PC, ICS, P, SBP)

vi. Support an inclusive and welcoming environment for all people within the educational and health care environment by being able to address and mitigate bias against members of marginalized groups. (ICS, P, SBP)

They will ...

i. Identify social and structural determinants of health within and outside of the health care system that cause unequal and unjust outcomes in overall health and health care delivery and describe how they impact patients’ social risk, medical decisions, and health-related behaviors. (MK, PC, SBP)

ii. Describe the landscape of types of medical insurance and how insurance, or lack thereof, affects patient access to care. (SBP)

iii. Analyze and address health systems barriers to equitable care for patients. (SBP)

iv. Describe methods to advocate for patient health and safety within existing communities, public health and civic structures, locate themselves within the structure of health care delivery and use their agency within the system to advocate for patients’ health and improvements in the healthcare system. (P, PC)

Pillar 3: Our students will be leaders who are committed to the pursuit of lifelong growth, improvement, and professional development.

They will ...

i. Model high standards of ethics and human values. (P)

ii. Exhibit honesty, altruism, trustworthiness, humanism, empathy, compassion and integrity. (P)

iii. Fulfill obligations in a reliable and timely manner. (P)

iv. Recognize and address lapses in ethical and equitable professional behaviors in themselves and others. (P) 

v. Maintain professional standards with patients and for use of information technology and social media. (P)

vi. Accept responsibility for errors and evaluate failures as opportunities for growth. (P, PBLI)

vii. Sustain curiosity, recognize their own needs for additional help or supervision, and ask for assistance accordingly. (P)

viii. Manage uncertainty, recognizing that tolerance of ambiguity is unavoidable in the practice of medicine, and communicate the limits of their knowledge and the extent of their uncertainty to colleagues and patients. (P, PC, ICS)

They will ...

i. Identify those aspects of medical practice that bring joy and meaning to their individual work to sustain personal satisfaction and resilience. (P)

ii. Engage in reflective practice to assess and enhance their own metacognition. (MK, PBLI, P)  

iii. Acknowledge and identify their own knowledge gaps and engage in mastery learning behaviors applied for the entirety of their careers. (MK, PBLI, P)

iv. Seek and incorporate feedback and provide meaningful feedback to others. (P, ICS, PBLI)

v. Recognize and practice good mentorship and mentee-ship skills. (PBLI)

They will ...

i. Describe basic principles of effective leadership and leadership strategies. (ICS)

ii. Employ innovative and cutting-edge methods to lead collaborative, interprofessional teams. (PBLI, ICS)

iii. Develop and harness emotional intelligence as leaders who respect the views and needs of others, thoughtfully manage conflict, and provide inspiration and motivation to team members. (ICS, P, SBP)

iv. Demonstrate flexibility when faced with change and strive to balance the needs of their patients and healthcare teams with their own wellbeing as professionals and individuals. (P, SBP)

v. Actively participate in their own education and that of their patients, peers, and colleagues. (ICS, SBP)

Pillar 4: Our students will be innovators who advance medicine and biomedical science.

They will ...

i. Demonstrate scientific literacy, including the ability to identify, gather and critically appraise information from basic and clinical biomedical research sources, allowing them to integrate advances that impact the practice of medicine in the 21st century. (MK, PBLI)

ii. Students will be able to recognize when, if, and how to appropriately use race/ethnicity, gender, sex, and sexuality, and other social constructs in research, critically analyze, and draw appropriate conclusions from such studies. (MK)

iii. Engage in scholarly work that affords them familiarity with common research techniques, including statistical analysis. (PBLI)

They will ...

i. Embrace medicine as a dynamic and changing process throughout their careers. (PBLI, SBP)
     a. Compare new techniques with existing standards of care to determine when to pursue new approaches by applying evidence-based review of the literature. (PBLI)
     b. Evaluate their own practice of medicine, and the systems in which they practice, to identify areas for improvement. (PBLI, SBP)

ii. Tolerate the ambiguity that often characterizes moments when medicine undergoes change. (P, PBLI)

iii. Recognize gaps as opportunities for advancing the scientific premise or empirical practice of medicine. (PBLI)

They will ...

i. Retrieve, manage, and use biomedical information to solve problems and make decisions that are relevant to the care of individuals and populations. These include addressing social and environmental determinants of health and barriers to health equity. (PC, PBLI, SBP)

ii. Employ systems approaches to quality-improvement principles, common patient safety/quality tools, and value-based care to improve equitable patient care. (PBLI, SBP)

iii. Evaluate the validity of information and apply statistical and quantitative techniques to interpret data related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. (PBLI)