, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 964-968

A Professional Development Course for the Clinical Clerkships: Developing a Student-Centered Curriculum

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Although professional development is addressed throughout the medical school curriculum, it is particularly salient to third-year students as they become integral members of health care teams.


We present a professional development curriculum for third-year medical students.


Urban medical school.

Program Description

In 2005, our curriculum consisted of 3 large group panels, each followed by a small group, occurring after the first, third, and last clerkship. Before each small group, students prepared critical incident reports, which led to focused group reflection. The individual topics were, respectively: (1) transition to clerkship learning; (2) challenges to professional behavior; and (3) medical errors. In 2006, based on student feedback, we piloted a revised student-centered panel on professionalism that was based entirely on themes from students’ critical incident reports.

Program Evaluation

Students rated the curriculum well overall. In 2005–2006, the small groups ranged from 3.95 to 3.98 (SD 0.88) on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = poor, 5 = excellent) and the panels ranged from 3.54 to 4.41 (SD 0.9). The pilot panel in 2006 was rated 4.38 (SD 0.80). The most common professionalism themes generated from 185 critical incident reports were communication, compassionate patient care, accountability, and team collaboration.


A professional development curriculum, consisting of panels, small groups, and critical incident reports, can promote reflection among third-year medical students.