Dramatic changes in health care have stimulated reform of undergraduate medical education. In an effort to improve the teaching of generalist competencies and encourage learning in the outpatient setting, the Society of General Internal Medicine joined with the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine in a federally sponsored initiative to develop a new curriculum for the internal medicine core clerkship. Using a broad-based advisory committee and working closely with key stakeholders (especially clerkship directors), the project collaborators helped forge a new national consensus on the learning agenda for the clerkship (a prioritized set of basic generalist competencies) and on the proportion of time that should be devoted to outpatient care (at least one third of the clerkship). From this consensus emerged a new curricular model that served as the basis for production of a curriculum guide and faculty resource package. The guide features the prioritized set of basic generalist competencies and specifies the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes/values needed to master them, as well as a list of suggested training problems. It also includes recommended training experiences, schedules, and approaches to faculty development, precepting, and student evaluation.
Demand for the guide has been strong and led to production of a second edition, which includes additional materials, an electronic version, and a pocket guide for students and faculty. A follow-up survey of clerkship directors administered soon after completion of the first edition revealed widespread use of the curricular guide but also important barriers to full implementation of the new curriculum. Although this collaborative effort appears to have initiated clerkship reform, long-term success will require an enhanced educational infrastructure to support teaching in the outpatient setting.