Physician Competency Reference

The AAMC Physician Competency Reference Set (PCRS) is the basis of the University of Illinois College of Medicine program objectives for our graduates. Our College’s expectations are in eight domains of competence:

  1. Patient care
  2. Medical knowledge
  3. Practice-based learning and improvement
  4. Interpersonal and communication skills
  5. Professionalism
  6. System-based practice
  7. Interprofessional collaboration
  8. Personal and professional development

Patient care

Provide patient-centered care that is compassionate, appropriate, and effective for the treatment of health problems

  • Perform all medical, diagnostic, and surgical procedures considered essential for the area of practice
  • Gather essential and accurate information about patients and their conditions through history-taking, physical examination, and the use of laboratory data, imaging, and other tests
  • Organize and prioritize responsibilities to provide care that is safe, effective, and efficient
  • Interpret laboratory data, imaging studies, and other tests required for the area of practice
  • Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment
  • Develop and carry out patient management plans
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision making
  • Provide appropriate referral of patients including ensuring continuity of care throughout transitions between providers or settings, and following up on patient progress and outcomes
  • Provide health care services to patients, families, and communities aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health
  • Provide appropriate role modeling
  • Perform supervisory responsibilities commensurate with one’s roles, abilities, and qualifications

Medical Knowledge

Demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social-behavioral sciences, as well as the application of this knowledge to patient care

Demonstrate an investigatory and analytic approach to clinical situations
Apply established and emerging bio-physical scientific principles fundamental to health care for patients and populations
Apply established and emerging principles of clinical sciences to diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, clinical problem-solving, and other aspects of evidence-based health care
Apply principles of epidemiological sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for patients and populations
Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care-seeking, care compliance, and barriers to and attitudes toward care
Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices

Practice-based learning and improvement

Demonstrate the ability to investigate and evaluate one’s care of patients, to appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and to continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning

Identify strengths, deficiencies, and limits in one’s knowledge and expertise
Set learning and improvement goals
Identify and perform learning activities that address one’s gaps in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes
Systematically analyze practice using quality improvement methods, and implement changes with the goal of practice improvement
Incorporate feedback into daily practice
Locate, appraise, and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to patients’ health problems
Use information technology to optimize learning
Participate in the education of patients, families, students, trainees, peers and other health professionals
Obtain and utilize information about individual patients, populations of patients, or communities from which patients are drawn to improve care
Continually identify, analyze, and implement new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, products, or services that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes

Interpersonal and communication skills

Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families, and health professionals

Communicate effectively with patients, families, and the public, as appropriate, across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds
Communicate effectively with colleagues within one’s profession or specialty, other health professionals, and health related agencies
Work effectively with others as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
Act in a consultative role to other health professionals
Maintain comprehensive, timely, and legible medical records
Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, and compassion in difficult conversations, including those about death, end of life, adverse events, bad news, disclosure of errors, and other sensitive topics. Demonstrate insight and understanding about emotions and human responses to emotions that allow one to develop and manage interpersonal interactions.



Demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and an adherence to ethical principles

Demonstrate compassion, integrity, and respect for others
Demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self-interest
Demonstrate respect for patient privacy and autonomy
Demonstrate accountability to patients, society and the profession
Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including but not limited to diversity in gender, age, culture, race, religion, disabilities, and sexual orientation
Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, informed consent, and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies, and regulations

Systems-based practice

Demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care, as well as the ability to call effectively on other resources in the system to provide optimal health care

Work effectively in various health care delivery settings and systems relevant to one’s clinical specialty
Incorporate considerations of cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis in patient and/or population-based care
Advocate for quality patient care and optimal patient care systems
Participate in identifying system errors and implementing potential systems solutions
Perform administrative and practice management responsibilities commensurate with one’s role, abilities, and qualifications

Interprofessional collaboration

Demonstrate the ability to engage in an interprofessional team in a manner that optimizes safe, effective patient- and population-centered care

Work with other health professionals to establish and maintain a climate of mutual respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity, and trust
Use the knowledge of one’s own role and the roles of other health professionals to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of the patients and populations served
Communicate with other health professionals in a responsive and responsible manner that supports the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease in individual patients and populations
Participate in different team roles to establish, develop, and continuously enhance interprofessional teams to provide patient- and population-centered care that is safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable

Personal and professional development

Demonstrate the qualities required to sustain lifelong personal and professional growth

Develop the ability to use self-awareness of knowledge, skills, and emotional limitations to engage in appropriate help-seeking behaviors
Demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms to respond to stress
Manage conflict between personal and professional responsibilities
Practice flexibility and maturity in adjusting to change with the capacity to alter one’s behavior
Demonstrate trustworthiness that makes colleagues feel secure when one is responsible for the care of patients
Provide leadership skills that enhance team functioning, the learning environment, and/or the health care delivery system
Demonstrate self-confidence that puts patients, families, and members of the health care team at ease
Recognize that ambiguity is part of clinical health care and respond by utilizing appropriate resources in dealing with uncertainty