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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

Vital Experiences: An Interactive System for Tracking Holistic Clinical Competency

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

But how can you concretely track from which patient encounters you are learning during each of the six core clerkships? Here is where the Vital Experiences play a key role.

The Vanderbilt Vital Experiences are a comprehensive list of 100 diagnoses deemed necessary for any student to experience in order to graduate with a well-rounded, holistic clinical medical education. These experiences are vital — they represent the central core of your clinical medical education in the clerkships and beyond. As you work through the Vital Experiences housed within each clerkship, you’ll be equipped to

  • Recognize each of the diagnoses
  • Perform targeted and comprehensive histories and physical exams
  • Formulate a prioritized differential diagnosis
  • Guide the creation of a patient-specific management plan

During your six core clerkships, our VITALS system will help you track your encounters to guide your journey towards clinical competency. This journey continues into the Immersion Phase, where you can ensure a complete breadth of exposure while also tracking your refinement and pursuit of individualized learning interests. Our goal is to ensure that every student leaves VUSM equipped to handle the rigors of patient care in any field of medicine, while still promoting the personalization of precision medical education.

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.