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Am J Med. 1997 Jun;102(6):564-71.

National survey of Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine on the competencies that should be addressed in the medicine core clerkship.

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Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



To prioritize competencies that should be addressed in the medicine core clerkship, assess factors influencing this prioritization, and estimate the percentage of clerkship time that should be devoted to inpatient versus outpatient care.


A national survey of the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) was used. Using explicit criteria, respondents assigned priority scores, on a 1 to 5 scale, to 17 general competencies and 60 disease-specific clinical competencies pertinent to care of adult patients in inpatient. ambulatory, intensive care, and emergency settings.


Ninety-three (75%) of 124 CDIM members responded. The highest mean priority scores were assigned to 6 general competencies: case presentation skills (4.65), diagnostic decision-making (4.64), history and physical diagnosis (4.61), test interpretation (4.47), communication with patients (4.35), and therapeutic decision-making (4.12). Disease-specific clinical competency areas receiving the highest mean priority scores were: hypertension (4.57), coronary disease (4.53), diabetes mellitus (4.45), heart failure (4.42), pneumonia (4.39), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.26), acid-base/electrolyte disorders (4.19), and acute chest pain (4.08). Priorities for general competencies were moderately correlated with importance to the practice of general internists (mean Spearman rho 0.49) and with importance to students pursuing careers outside internal medicine (mean Spearman rho 0.45), but only weakly correlated with the adequacy with which a competency was addressed in other parts of the curriculum. Respondents' mean recommended allocation of clerkship time was: 52% inpatient, 33% ambulatory care, 8% intensive care, and 7% emergency medicine. This time allocation did not differ by any characteristics of respondents.


There is consensus among medicine clerkship directors that the medicine core clerkship should emphasize fundamental competencies and devote at least one third of the time to clinical competencies pertinent to ambulatory care.

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