Course Learning Outcomes

The Core Competencies are the course learning outcomes for the Clinical Distinction course.  The goal of describing and reaching for competence in these aspects of medicine is foundational to medical education and through the competencies, Clinical Distinction offers a unique opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of the process of becoming an osteopathic physician.

The seven core competencies are:

  • Osteopathic Principles and Practices
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Patient Care
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Systems-Based Practice

Each of these competencies is explained in detail in a document written by AACOM. Once a student has selected a few competencies, they should consult this document, the Core Competency Report to ensure they are appropriate for the project.

Because most clinical or medical activities in some way include all of the competencies, the student’s task is to select 1-4 competencies on which they will focus. Simply selecting all competencies does not allow for true understanding of each domain of knowledge.

Medical education is an ongoing spiraling process: knowledge and skills are learned and then integration with critical thinking occurs and a deeper and more meaningful understanding develops.  Gathering clinical and life experiences allow a spiraling backwards and upwards through the knowledge and skills, and continued development of clinical acumen and a professional identity.

Students are asked to focus on 1-4 Core Competencies per course and may not focus deeply on all 7 during the span of the two Clinical Distinction opportunities.

The Core Competencies and EPAs are also described in the About section of this website.

Using the Competencies to Create a Project

Many students will have chosen a topic before they get to competency selection for their course project. In this case they might choose the competencies they are most likely to work with based on that idea or topic. For example, a student who is doing a research project on hand washing will likely choose practice based learning and improvement and systems based practice.

Students can also start with the competencies and develop a project around the decision of which competencies they want to work on. For example, a student might want to focus on Interpersonal Communication Skills and choose to take histories in a variety of different types of “difficult” patient encounters, such as a patient in pain, a very young pediatric patient, and a patient with dementia.

Students can choose also competencies because of their interests – for example a student might choose a track focused on traditional osteopathy and choose the first competency – Osteopathic Principles and Practice, and Patient Care. Or a student can choose competencies in areas they feel they need more practice – for example Medical knowledge or Systems Based Practice.

The key is that the student is selecting their focused course learning outcomes.

Using the Competencies in the development of the Contract

When the student creates a contract of learning they need to have their competencies selected. The competencies create the structure of the course through which the student demonstrates learning and progress. The contract will specify which competencies the student will focus on, what activities will allow them to learn more in each domain, how they will demonstrate their learning, and how they will assess themselves.

Using the Competencies for Self- Assessment and the Narrative Evaluation

A well designed contract will describe the expected development in competence over the course of the project. Many students will be able to use entrustable professional activities as an anchor in their discussion. However, not all students will have this option, and for those that don’t a narrative evaluation with language that is focused and specific, regarding their exploration of the competencies which they selected, is important.

Whether a student uses EPAs or not, they are asked to describe why they have selected the competencies, and how they will become more competent.

Students can describe how the activities afforded them the opportunity to dive into the area of competence they selected and use the AACOM’s Core Competency report to understand and discuss what components of the competency they focused on. In writing about the competencies specifically, students will demonstrate a level of self-reflection and understanding of professional development which will highlight their capacity for being a medical professional and a successful intern.

More Information

The following video is also posted in the About section of the website, but if you haven’t watched it yet, now is a great time. It’s a very helpful video on competencies and EPAs

If you have questions about how to use the language of competencies and EPAs in developing your project, drafting your contract or writing your narrative evaluation, reach out to your clinical distinction advisor.