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MD Program Goals and Objectives

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:

  • Empathy and respect for patients and colleagues
  • Ethical decision making
  • Health equity
  • Intellectual rigor and scientific curiosity
  • Leadership and innovation
  • Patient-centered, team-based care
  • Self-inquiry and lifelong learning
  • 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

1. Knowledge for Practice

Each graduate must demonstrate knowledge of the basic, clinical, and behavioral sciences, and apply this knowledge to patient care. By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

1.1. Demonstrate knowledge of the normal structure and function of the human body and each of its major organ systems.

1.2. Demonstrate a foundation of cell and molecular biology for understanding mechanisms of acquired and inherited human disease. 

1.3. Demonstrate knowledge of altered structure and function of major organ systems that are seen in common diseases and conditions.

1.4. Demonstrate knowledge of the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic manifestations of common disease and conditions.  

1.5. Demonstrate knowledge of behavioral, psychosocial, genetic, and cultural factors associated with the origin, progression, and treatment of common diseases and conditions. 

1.6. Demonstrate knowledge of the epidemiology of common diseases and conditions within a defined population and systematic approaches useful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of these maladies.

1.7. Demonstrate knowledge of the impact of cultural and psychosocial factors on a patient’s ability to access medical care and adhere with care plans. 

    2. 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:

    2.1. Demonstrate empathic and patient-centered interviewing and communication. 

    2.2. Demonstrate the ability to obtain an accurate and complete medical history considering the patient’s culture, beliefs, personal preferences and level of health literacy.

    2.3. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with patients, families and members of the healthcare team/other healthcare professionals.

    2.4. Demonstrate the ability to work as a member of a healthcare team, collaborating effectively with other healthcare professionals in caring for patients.

    3. 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:

    3.1. Elicit in-depth and focused patient-centered histories. 

    3.2. Perform accurate complete and focused physical and mental status examinations.

    3.3. Integrate patient information with clinical and basic science knowledge. 

    3.4. Select appropriate, relevant laboratory, radiologic and other clinical studies and interpret the results of such studies.

    3.5. Develop a differential diagnosis. 

    3.6. Formulate a plan for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of common clinical problems.

    3.7. Recognize patients with life-threatening, emergency conditions and institute appropriate initial therapy.

    3.8. Identify opportunities for early intervention, prevention and health education of patients while being mindful of the patient’s readiness and barriers to change.

    3.9. Demonstrate technical competence of routine medical procedures. 

    3.10. Recommend appropriate referral of patients including ensuring continuity of care throughout transitions between providers or settings, and following up on patient progress and outcomes. 

    3.11. Synthesize and communicate patient information to other health professionals to accomplish safe care transitions and promote effective teamwork. 

    4. Professionalism

    Our students are expected to demonstrate a commitment to  upholding their professional duties guided by ethical principles. By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

    4.1. Demonstrate respect for patients by using the appropriate form of address, attending to a patient’s comfort, displaying appropriate attire and grooming, and honoring a patient’s privacy and right to make decisions.

    4.2. Demonstrate responsibility in actions by being punctual, managing emotions when confronted with adversity and confrontation, and recognizing personal and peer impairments. 

    4.3. Demonstrate honor and integrity by being honest about role and experience level, admitting mistakes and shortcomings, appropriately attributing sources of ideas and data, and respecting boundaries between patients, peers, and educators. 

    4.4. 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.

    4.5. Demonstrate compassion by recognizing and responding with empathy to others’ emotions and expectations, regardless of regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, socioeconomic status, religion, political affiliation, medical diagnosis, level of adherence, or health literacy/education level. 

    4.6. Demonstrate a dedication to teamwork, and an understanding of and respect for the unique roles of all members of the healthcare team.

    4.7. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles that govern ethical decision-making and rules and regulations regarding healthcare delivery, incorporating them into clinical practice and research. 

    5. 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:

    5.1. Demonstrate the ability to recognize strengths, deficiencies and limitations in their knowledge and skills.

    5.2. Demonstrate the ability to set learning and improvement goals.

    5.3. Demonstrate the ability to identify and perform learning activities that address gaps in their knowledge, skills and/or attitudes.

    5.4. Demonstrate the use of information technology to optimize learning.

    5.5. Demonstrate a commitment to continuously improve their medical knowledge, skills and/or attitudes by incorporating formative evaluation and feedback into daily practice.

    5.6. Participate in the education of patients, families, trainees, peers and other health professionals.

    5.7. Demonstrate the ability to obtain and utilize information about individual patients, populations of patients or communities of patients to improve care.

    5.8. Demonstrate life-long learning skills by continually identifying, analyzing and implementing new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, products or services that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes.

    6. Systems-Based Practice

    Each graduate will demonstrate awareness and understanding of the broader health care delivery system and will possess the ability to effectively use system resources to provide patient-centered care that is compassionate, appropriate, safe and effective. By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

    6.1. Advocate for quality patient care and optimal care systems. 

    6.2. Demonstrate a commitment to balancing risks of harm vs. benefit in patient and/or population-based care as well as exercising cost-awareness. 

    6.3. Use system resources available to patients, families and communities for health promotion and maintenance, disease prevention, education, treatment, and rehabilitation of medical and psychiatric conditions.

    6.4. Identify system errors and common sources of medical error and recommend potential systems solutions. 

    7. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

    Each graduate will demonstrate the skills to participate as a contributing and integrated member of an interprofessional healthcare team to provide safe and effective care for patients and populations. By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

    7.1. Identify one’s own role and the roles of other team members, including limitations and boundaries of each role to optimize healthcare delivery and effective healthcare team functioning.

    7.2. Work with other health professionals to cultivate and preserve a climate of mutual trust, respect, dignity, diversity, integrity, and ethicality.

    7.3. Communicate with respect for and appreciation of all healthcare team members and include them in all relevant information exchange.

    7.4. Participate as a high-functioning team member by contributing one’s skills set, supporting other team members as needed and ensuring the functioning of the healthcare team remains optimal (i.e. safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable) for patient and population-centered care.


    8. Personal and Professional Development

    Each graduate will demonstrate the qualities and commitment required to sustain lifelong learning, personal and professional growth. By the time of graduation, students are expected to: 

    8.1. Demonstrate self-awareness in identifying limitations (in knowledge, skill, emotion, etc.) and the ability to seek help appropriately and engage in healthy coping mechanisms. 

    8.2. Develop skills for ongoing improvement as a healthcare provider through self-reflection, critical self-appraisal, and openness to accepting feedback. 

    8.3. Understand that situations involving ambiguity and uncertainty are natural elements of the medical profession and respond to such situations by drawing upon appropriate resources. 

      Quick Reference

      MD Program
      Student Admissions

      Phone 336-716-4264
      Fax 336-716-9593

      Mon - Fri; 9 am to 4 pm


      Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education, 1st Floor, 475 Vine St.

      Mailing Address

      Office of MD Admissions
      Wake Forest School of Medicine
      PO Box 573183
      Winston Salem, NC 27157

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      Last Updated: 06-17-2016
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