Educational Goals

  Educational Goals

Wake Forest School of Medicine recognizes the education of students as one of its primary missions. The fundamental goal of the school is to graduate students with the knowledge, clinical skills, and desire to excel in their chosen areas of medicine. In conjunction with appropriate societal and professional bodies, the School of Medicine endeavors to guide students to choose among various areas of interest — generalist or clinical specialty, academic practice, and basic research — to satisfy society’s needs.

The School of Medicine strives to provide its graduates with the skills to be lifelong learners. For the student, this aim requires a broad knowledge of basic clinical science and the ability to analyze and incorporate new knowledge. In addition to being a scholar, the student must possess attitudes and values that include a respect for life and a desire to serve the suffering. The School of Medicine endeavors to produce graduates with the attitude, integrity, and compassion they need to be caring health professionals.

The following seven goals make up the foundation of the undergraduate medical education program at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Program-level objectives have been identified within each of the seven educational goals. Educational activities build upon the foundation provided by these program-level goals and objectives to ensure that our graduates develop into competent, caring health professionals for individual patients and society.

1. Self-directed Learning and Lifelong Learning Skills

Physicians will need to acquire knowledge and learn skills to stay current with the constant changes in medical practice. Continued dependence upon science and technology learned during medical school will be insufficient. Development of the motivation and skills to learn throughout one’s professional life is an essential part of undergraduate medical education. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate the capacity to recognize limitations in their own knowledge and skills and a commitment to continuously improve their knowledge and ability, an understanding of the need to engage in lifelong learning to stay abreast of relevant scientific advances, and the ability to understand and apply the results of scientific research to patient care.

2. Core Biomedical Science Education

The basic sciences should create a foundation for learning the pathophysiology of disease. Skill in identifying and resolving clinical problems is derived from this solid foundation in the biomedical sciences and will be acquired by all graduates. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate knowledge of the normal structure and function of the body and of each of its major organ systems; molecular, biochemical, and cellular mechanisms that are important in maintaining the body’s homeostasis; causes (genetic, developmental, metabolic, environmental, microbiologic, autoimmune, neoplastic, degenerative, and traumatic), pathogenesis, and altered structure and function of the body and its major organ systems that are seen in common diseases and conditions; clinical, laboratory, and radiologic manifestations and treatment options (pharmacologic, physical, psychological, and nutritional) of common maladies; behavioral, social, and cultural factors associated with the origin and progression of disease; approaches to the organization, financing, and delivering of health care; and the epidemiology of common illnesses within a defined population and systematic approaches useful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of these maladies.

3. Clinical Skills

Students will develop competence in motor and cognitive skills applicable to the practice of medicine and consonant with the technical standards required for admission. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate the ability to perform both a complete and an organ-system-specific physical examination and the ability to perform routine technical procedures including, at a minimum, venipuncture and insertion of an intravenous catheter, nasogastric tube, and Foley catheter.

4.Problem Solving/Clinical Reasoning Skills

Students must develop skills in problem solving and clinical reasoning. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate the ability to:

• reason deductively and inductively in solving clinical problems;

• define clinical problems derived from patient encounters;

• integrate patient information with clinical and basic science knowledge;

• formulate a differential diagnosis;

• derive a therapeutic plan for addressing the defined problem;

• recognize patients with immediately life-threatening conditions and institute appropriate initial therapy;

• recognize and outline an initial course of management for patients with serious conditions requiring critical care; and

• identify factors that place individuals at risk for disease or injury, select appropriate tests for detecting patients at risk for specific disease or in an early stage of disease, and determine strategies for appropriate response.

5.Interviewing and Communication Skills

For the purpose of gathering information for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, all students should develop skills in interviewing and communication. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate the ability to obtain an accurate and complete medical history that includes issues related to age, gender, and socioeconomic status and the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with patients, colleagues, and others with whom physicians must exchange information in carrying out their responsibilities.

6.Information Management Skills

Physicians will need to develop information management skills to support patient care decisions and to continue as lifelong learners. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate

• the ability to retrieve (from electronic databases and other resources), manage, and utilize biomedical information for problem solving and decision making with respect to the care of individuals and populations, and the fundamental knowledge and skills to fulfill the following roles of a physician:

Lifelong Learner — knowledge of a broad range of medical information resources and their relative value, the know-how to use them, and the motivation to use them routinely;

Educator/Communicator — ability to teach in various contexts: with peers and students, with patients, and with the public at large;

Researcher — an understanding of sources of data and ability to employ methods of decision theory to formulate testable hypotheses and collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data;

Clinician — acquisition of information about the patient, making clinical decisions on the basis of available information, and documenting and relaying findings; and

Manager — understanding and managing costs, managing and working effectively in groups, and effectively managing oneself within the context of the overall healthcare system.

7. Professional Attitudes and Behavior

Medical knowledge and skills are insufficient to make a good physician. Therefore, students will learn the basic values and attitudes of the medical profession. Prior to graduation, students will demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the theories and principles that govern ethical decision making and of the major ethical dilemmas in medicine, particularly those that arise at the beginning and the end of life;
  • Reverence for human life, understanding that sympathy for suffering is the fundamental concern of the medical profession, and that the needs of the patient are paramount and should govern a physician’s actions;
  • Understanding of and respect for the roles of other healthcare professionals, and recognition of the need to collaborate with others in caring for individual patients and in promoting the health of defined populations;
  • Adherence to the highest standards of integrity and discretion while treating all with equal honor, respect, and compassion; and grace to admit mistakes and lack of knowledge and the desire to learn and improve continuously


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