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Milestones along the medical school journey

Curriculum 2.0 combines rigorous instruction with personalizable clinical experiences like no other— but how do you know what success looks like in each setting? What measures of growth keep you updated on your progress?

A constellation of feedback and support

We want to make sure you’re getting feedback from multiple sources, so we’ve built opportunities into the curriculum for many different types of reflection and improvement:

Competency-Based Feedback

Curriculum 2.0 operates with a competency-based strategy, which means that you can measure your medical growth along a set of objective milestones.

Your clinical preceptors, course directors, and Master Clinical Teachers will periodically assess how close you are to achieving certain growth landmarks.

For example, milestones for your M1 Foundations of Health Care Delivery might include:

  • Collaborates with the patient on a treatment plan by eliciting patient values and preferences
  • Consistently receptive to feedback, seeks actively, and applied appropriately
  • Demonstrates professional demeanor in routine situations

Narrative Feedback

To complement the milestone-based feedback you receive, course instructors and mentors also provide narrative feedback— descriptions or anecdotes to share how you’re growing in class and in clinic.

Narrative feedback allows for more color and nuance so that you can understand what your faculty are thinking as they provide your personal competency-based feedback.


As you’re discovering which specialties most interest you, you’ll have time built into Portfolio Coach meetings, as well as Learning Communities and College gatherings to ask questions like:

  • What energizes me?
  • What goals should I set for the next block?
  • What directions do I want to continue exploring outside of class?

Peer Feedback

Just like self-assessment, opportunities for peer feedback are built into the M1 curriculum. As you collaborate with peers and facilitators in your Case-Based Learning groups, your peers will pass along comments about your professional and teamwork abilities.

But it’s not enough to just receive feedback; you also have to know how to process it. Luckily, you’ll have a personal mentor trained just for this: your portfolio coach.

Together you will:

  • Meet regularly through all four years of medical school
  • Collect and reflect on all the assessment data you’ve received from various sources
  • Talk through your strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop timely goals for continued growth

VC3: a true competency-based system for the clerkships

Clerkships are a time of incomparable learning: after all, you’re learning from hands-on experience in patient-doctor interaction on a daily basis, as well as absorbing clinical manner and tact from your Master Clinical Teachers.

But how can you concretely measure what you learn in each of the six core clerkships? Here’s where VC3 plays a key role.

The Vanderbilt Core Clinical Curriculum (VC3) offers a set of 25 concrete milestones to help you measure how much you’ve learned in clinic. These 25 presenting problems include the most common conditions you’ll encounter in clinical work. As you work with conditions from abdominal pain to jaundice to substance abuse, you’ll be equipped to:

  • Recognize each of the 25 presenting problems
  • Perform history and physical exams based on what the situation calls for
  • Formulate a prioritized differential diagnosis for the patient
  • Guide the creation of a patient-specific management plan

During your six core clerkships, our portfolio system tracks your encounters with patients to see which of the 25 you’ve come into contact with so far. Our goal? Develop clinical judgement so that you can use prior experience to determine the best next step for the patient in front of you.

Your Voice in Curriculum Changes

If assessment is all about your success as a student, evaluation is all about making the curriculum succeed as well. As a VUSM student, you’ll partner in the curriculum design process from the very beginning:

  • Join the Student Curriculum Committee, which meets with the Assessment team every two weeks during the M1 year to provide immediate feedback on the current block
  • Provide rapid-cycle feedback to your course directors through course reviews and program assessment each semester
  • Contribute feedback through AAMC-designed surveys, including the Matriculating Student Questionnaire, the Year 2 Questionnaire, and the Graduation Questionnaire
  • Attend student and faculty summits designed to innovate assessment and evaluation across medical education

Recent examples of student-motivated changes include

  • The development of a Health Equity Certificate program
  • The addition of a new M1 block, so that M1 students no longer have to study for a block exam over winter break

As a future physician-leader and colleague, your voice is an invaluable contribution to medical education innovation for the next generations.