MD Competencies

The School of Medicine curriculum provides a set of educational experiences designed to support students’ mastery of the core knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to achieve their goals as 21st-century physicians, researchers, teachers, and public servants. Throughout the curriculum, medical students’ achievement of these competencies is assessed through a variety of methods that constitute a program of assessment. This coordinated and integrated approach provides frequent feedback and practice so that students have the information they need to advance their learning. In addition, there are periodic high-stakes assessments that ensure that students are ready to advance to the next stage in their training.

The UCSF MD Program requires students to achieve competence as defined by the program objectives in the seven competencies listed below. For each competency, a set of milestones defines the expected progress throughout medical school and upon graduation. All students achieve core competencies, with Bridges Curriculum Milestones elaborating topics such as inquiry and systems improvement.


Patient Care

The Patient Care competency encompasses the history taking, physical examination, oral presentation, and written documentation skills essential for medical students to provide care for their patients. The milestones describe how students progressively gain skill in gathering information from patients and other sources, and then increasingly use clinical reasoning to guide both information gathering and generation of differential diagnoses and management plans. Students also progress along milestones capturing their increasing ability to gather information from diverse patient populations, interpret a range of abnormal findings, and organize the care of multiple patients.

Medical Knowledge

The Medical Knowledge competency addresses the ability to establish and maintain knowledge necessary for patient care, along with skills in clinical diagnosis, test ordering, and application of therapeutic strategies for management of clinical problems. Students progress along milestones by acquiring and maintaining knowledge over time, utilizing problem-solving skills, and continuing to apply knowledge in the care of progressively more complex patient care situations. Students also have the opportunity to develop, apply, and translate new medical knowledge through scholarly inquiry, discovery, and dissemination.

Practice-Based Learning & Improvement

The Practice-Based Learning & Improvement (PBLI) competency encompasses information management, evidence-based medicine, and reflection and self-improvement. The milestones describe how students progressively gain skill in managing information by using the online learning environment, using electronic medical records, accessing online medical information, and assimilating evidence from scientific studies in patient care. Students also progress along PBLI milestones that define their increasing ability to seek, incorporate, and deliver feedback, and document evidence of critical reflection on experiences to inform development of individual learning and improvement goals summarized in a plan.

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

The Interpersonal and Communication Skills competency includes communication with patients and communication with other healthcare providers. Students progress along milestones by learning to establish rapport with patients and families, elicit and address patient’s goals, negotiate agendas, and work with cultural forces affecting patient care. With respect to communication with other healthcare providers, students learn the skills of oral presentation of patient information appropriate for the clinical situation. Students also progress along communication milestones by learning how to contribute to a group respectfully and effectively.


The Professionalism competency includes professional relationships, work habits, ethical principles, and external standards. By progressing along the milestones, students develop skill in forming relationships with patients and colleagues that are based on respect, integrity, and responsiveness to others’ needs. Other professionalism milestones describe how students will learn to apply ethical standards to their practice.

Systems-Based Practice

The Systems-Based Practice competency encompasses understanding the structure of healthcare delivery systems and systems improvement. The milestones describe how students progressively gain skill in working as members of interprofessional healthcare teams, learning how patient care relates to the healthcare system as a whole, and using the system to improve the quality and safety of patient care.  Students also progress along milestones capturing their increasing ability to conduct systems-improvement interventions and to incorporate knowledge about healthcare system structures and cost into management of patients.

Interprofessional Collaboration

The Interprofessional Collaboration competency addresses the ability to effectively collaborate with other healthcare professionals and within teams. Students progress along milestones by demonstrating increasing ability to integrate knowledge of one’s own role and the roles and responsibilities of other healthcare professionals in clinical decision making, and to utilize communication strategies that support effective and efficient collaboration. The milestones also address the ability to establish and maintain a climate of mutual respect, ethical integrity, and trust.


*This core set of competencies has been organized based on the competencies adopted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).