MD Program Curriculum

Curriculum Goals

Wake Forest School of Medicine provides a unique medical education developed by a faculty that value self-inquiry, collaboration, curiosity, and leadership. We offer a transformational and supportive experience that develops physicians who set the standard for compassionate, collaborative care; who lead the way in socially responsible healthcare and biomedical sciences locally, nationally, and globally; and who learn, discover, and apply innovative state-of-the-art knowledge and skills to the art of medicine. Students and faculty are equal and active partners in the learning process.

Principles of the MD Program

Wake Forest School of Medicine is defined by a commitment to:


  • Leadership and innovation
  • Ethical decision making
  • Intellectual rigor and scientific curiosity
  • Self-inquiry and lifelong learning
  • Empathy and respect for patients and colleagues
  • Health equity
  • Team-based, patient-centered care
  • The belief that even the most challenging problems can be solved


Our medical school culture and curriculum are based on these principles. Our faculty value them and model them for students. Although our curriculum evolves as medicine changes, we hold firm to these core values so that above all else, our graduates are trained to practice medicine according to these principles.

Objectives of the MD Program

Medical Knowledge

Each graduate must demonstrate knowledge of the basic cellular and molecular basis of human disease to help develop a plan for patient care.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the normal structure and function of the human body and each of its major organ systems
  • Demonstrate a foundation of cell and molecular biology for understanding mechanisms of acquired and inherited human disease
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the causes, pathogenesis, and altered structure and function of major organ systems that are seen in common diseases and conditions
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic manifestations as well as preventive treatment options of common diseases
  • Demonstrate knowledge of behavioral, social, genetic, and cultural factors associated with the origin and progression of disease
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the epidemiology of common illnesses within a defined population and systematic approaches useful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of these maladies

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Each graduate will communicate and interact effectively with patients, their families and members of the inter-professional healthcare team.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate empathic and patient-centered interviewing and communication
  • Demonstrate the ability to obtain an accurate and complete medical history considering the patient's culture, beliefs, personal preferences and level of health literacy
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with patients, families and members of the healthcare team
  • Demonstrate the ability to work as a member of a healthcare team, collaborating effectively with other healthcare professionals in caring for patients

Patient Care

Each graduate will function as a member of an inter-professional healthcare team and provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of health in diverse populations and settings.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Elicit in-depth and focused patient-centered histories
  • Perform accurate complete and focused physical and mental status examinations
  • Integrate patient information with clinical and basic science knowledge
  • Select appropriate, relevant laboratory, radiologic and other clinical studies and interpret the results of such studies
  • Develop a differential diagnosis
  • Formulate a plan for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of common clinical problems
  • Recognize patients with life-threatening, emergency conditions and institute appropriate initial therapy
  • Identify opportunities for early intervention, prevention and health education of patients while being mindful of the patient's readiness and barriers to change
  • Demonstrate technical competence of routine medical procedures


Our students are expected to demonstrate a commitment to the basic tenets of professionalism and to their own professional development.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate reverence for human life, understanding that sympathy for suffering is a fundamental concern of the medical profession and that the needs of the patient are paramount and should govern a physician's actions
  • Demonstrate commitment to the highest standards of integrity, respect, compassion, altruism, service and empathy in treating all patients, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, socioeconomic status, religion, political affiliation, medical diagnosis, level of adherence, or health literacy/education level
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for patient privacy and autonomy, including the right to refuse treatment
  • Demonstrate the grace to admit mistakes and lack of knowledge or skill, and a commitment to lifelong, self-directed learning and improvement
  • Demonstrate a dedication to teamwork, and an understanding of and respect for the unique roles of all members of the healthcare team
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the theories and principles that govern ethical decision-making and of the major ethical dilemmas in medicine, incorporating them into clinical practice and research

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

Each graduate must demonstrate the ability to investigate and evaluate their care of patients, to appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and to continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate the capacity to recognize limitations in their knowledge and skills
  • Demonstrate skills necessary to continue the learning process throughout their professional life and to set learning and improvement goals
  • Demonstrate a commitment to continuously improve their medical knowledge and abilities/capabilities by incorporating formative evaluation and feedback into daily practice
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the need to engage in lifelong learning in order to stay abreast of relevant scientific advances

Systems-Based Practice

Each graduate will demonstrate awareness and understanding of the broader health care system and will effectively use system resources to provide optimal and safe care to each patient and the community.

By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Advocate for quality and optimal care systems attempting to balance the risks of harm vs. benefit in patient care
  • Use system resources available to patients and communities for health promotion, education, treatment, and rehabilitation of medical and psychiatric conditions
  • Work in inter-professional teams to improve patient care, utilization of resources and promote a culture of patient safety
  • Identify system errors and common sources of medical error as well as implementing potential solutions

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3rd Floor Watlington Hall
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Medical Center Blvd.
Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1090
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Last Updated: 12-11-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.