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Introduction to Pathology Learning Competencies

Training an individual to become a physician requires the acquisition of a foundation of knowledge, the understanding of how systems work normally and in pathological states, and the lifelong gaining of experience in diagnosing and treating patients. The standards for accrediting medical education programs are described in the document entitled “Functions and Structure of a Medical School” from the LCME. In that document there are several educational objectives that apply to teaching pathology. In particular, ED-11 states “the curriculum of a medical education program must include content from the bio-medical sciences that supports students’ mastery of the contemporary scientific knowledge, concepts, and methods fundamental to acquiring and applying science to the health of individuals and populations and to the contemporary practice of medicine.”

Pathology is specifically named among the sub-objectives of scientific disciplines to which this standard relates. Thus, medical students must learn the basic mechanisms of disease, their manifestations in major organ systems and how to apply that knowledge to clinical practice for diagnosis and management of patients. Another educational objective ED-33 refers to a curriculum committee and states “There must be integrated institutional responsibility in a medical education program for the overall design, management, and evaluation of a coherent and coordinated curriculum.” With the advent of integrated curricula, Pathology must be appropriately represented in the curriculum committee to insure that there is full integration for teaching pathologic processes from basic mechanisms to organ system pathology to laboratory diagnosis.

The first educational objective ED-1 states “The faculty of an institution that offers a medical education program must define the objectives of its program. The objectives must serve as guides for establishing curriculum content and provide the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the program.” The following web-based competencies for Pathology are proposed as a national standard identifying the content for teaching pathology in three basic competencies: [link id=1935]disease mechanisms[/link], [link id=2477]integration of disease mechanisms into organ system pathology[/link], and [link id=165]application of pathology to diagnostic medicine[/link]. Each competency will include learning goals, objectives, and examples to assess the acquisition, integration and application of knowledge to demonstrate the development of competency.