Clerkship Learning Objectives

1. Biopsychosocial Model

  • Patient-centered communication skills:

    • Demonstrate an empathic response to patients using active listening skills.
    • Demonstrate the ability to set a collaborative agenda with the patient during any patient encounter.
    • Demonstrate the ability to elicit, prioritize, and attend to the patient’s specific concerns.
    • Review patient’s history, physical examination, and test results using terminology that the patient can understand.
    • Clarify information obtained by a patient from popular media, friends and family, or the Internet.
    • Validate a patient’s feelings by naming emotions and expressing empathy.
    • Effectively incorporate psychological issues into patient discussions and care planning.
    • Use empathy and active listening skills to improve patient adherence to medications and lifestyle changes.
    • Explain treatment plans for prevention and management of acute and chronic conditions to the patients.
    • Reflect on personal frustrations and the patient’s situation to better understand why patients do not adhere to offered recommendations or plans. 
  • Psychosocial awareness:

    • Explain why physicians have difficulty in situations such as patients’ requests for disability documentation, non-adherence, and chronic narcotic use.
    • Describe the influence of psychosocial factors on a patient’s ability to provide a history and carry out a treatment plan.
  • Patient education:

    • Describe mechanisms to improve adherence to and understanding of screening recommendations.
    • Provide patient education tools that account for literacy and cultural factors (e.g., a handout on how to read nutrition labels.)
    • Describe the patient education protocols for core chronic illnesses at their assigned clerkship sites.
    • Identify resources in a local practice community that support positive health outcomes for diverse patients and families.
    • Promote the use of support groups and other community resources to assist patients with mental health needs.
    • Identify and distribute current resources for patients with substance abuse problems at their clinic sites (e.g., lists of treatment referral centers, self-help groups, substance abuse counselors, etc.)


2. Comprehensive Care

  • Information gathering and assessment:

    • Apply critical appraisal skills to assess the validity of resources.
    • Formulate clinical questions important to patient management.
    • Conduct an appropriate and comprehensive literature search to effectively answer clinical questions.
    • Apply evidence-based medicine (EBM) to determine a cost-effective use of diagnostic imaging in the evaluation of core, acute presentations.
    • Demonstrate ability to discriminate between high and low-quality evidence when searching the medical literature.
    • Utilize high-quality Internet sites as resources for use in caring for patients with core conditions.
    • Curate a set of high quality mobile apps for quick reference when delivering patient care.
  • Lifelong learning:

    • Demonstrate an appropriate level of meta-cognitive skills to assess and remediate one’s own learning needs.
    • Describe an individualized, evidence-based process on how to keep current with preventive services recommendations.
    • Create an evolving set of learning goals and measures of success for those goals that address areas for improvement.


3. Contextual Care

  • Person in context of family:

    • Conduct an encounter that includes patient and families in the development of screening and treatment plans.
    • Demonstrate caring and respect when interacting with patients and their families even when confronted with atypical or emotionally charged behaviors.
    • Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange between patients of all ages and their families.
  • Person in context of community:

    • Incorporate knowledge of local community factors that affect the health of patients into daily patient care.
    • Demonstrate awareness of local, regional, and national health disparities and their impact on patient care.
    • Practice interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange between patients of all ages and professionals from the other disciplines and other specialties. 
  • Person in context of their culture:

    • Communicate effectively with patients and families from diverse cultural backgrounds.
    • Identify areas where a patient’s cultural context can impact health through comprehension, cultural perspective, access and utilization of health care.
    • Describe one’s own cultural influences and biases as they impact one’s ability to effectively deliver patient care.


4. Continuity of Care

  • Barriers to access:

    • Define social determinants of health and their role in continuity of care.
    • Describe the social determinants that can affect a patient’s ability to access and utilize the health care system at multiple levels:
      • Individual patient barriers
      • Community barriers
      • Health care system barriers


5. Coordination/Complexity of Care

  • Team Approach:

    • Describe the benefits of interdisciplinary health care teams in patient care (e.g., pharmacy, nursing, social work, and allied health).
    • Demonstrate skills in effective teamwork (e.g., sharing information, solving clinical problems as a team, etc.).
  • Quality and Safety:

    • Define clinical processes established to improve performance of a clinical site.
  • Complexity of Care:

    • Identify diagnostic uncertainty and the role of multi-systemic influence on a patient’s condition.
    • Adapt to changing patient presentation and needs.
    • Utilize effective patient care management strategies in patient’s presenting with complex conditions.
    • Describe the use of health information technology to enhance care coordination.
    • Summarize the importance of linking resources with patient and population needs.


Source: Society of Teachers of Family Medicine: National Clerkship Curriculum. Second Edition, 2018.


Family Medicine Clerkship Goals and Learning Objectives (Printable Version)