Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 439–454 | Cite as

Building a competency-based curriculum: the agony and the ecstasy

  • Mark A. Albanese
  • George Mejicano
  • W. Marshall Anderson
  • Larry Gruppen


Physician competencies have increasingly been a focus of medical education at all levels. Although competencies are not a new concept, when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) jointly agreed on six competencies for certification and maintenance of certification of physicians in 1999, it brought about renewed interest. This article gives a brief overview of how a competency-based curriculum differs from other approaches and then describes the issues that need to be considered in the design and implementation of such a curriculum. In order to achieve success, a competency-based curriculum requires careful planning, preparation and a long-term commitment from everyone involved in the educational process. Building a competency-based curriculum is really about maintaining quality control and relinquishing control to those who care the most about medical education, our students. In the face of the many challenges that are facing undergraduate medical education (UME), including declining availability of teaching patients and over-burdened faculty, instituting quality control and relinquishing control will be necessary to maintain high quality.


Competency-based curriculum Curriculum change 



This article is based upon a presentation the first author gave as the 2005 Jack L. Maatsch Visiting Scholar in Medical Education at Michigan State University. The authors wish to thank the selection committee for providing the impetus for the genesis of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Albanese
    • 1
  • George Mejicano
    • 1
  • W. Marshall Anderson
    • 2
  • Larry Gruppen
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Indiana University School of Medicine-NorthwestGaryUSA
  3. 3.University of Michigan Medical SchoolAnn ArborUSA

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