What is taught, what is tested: Findings and competency-based recommendations of the Undergraduate Medical Education Committee of the Society of Critical Care Medicine

Heidi L. Frankel, Paul L. Rogers, Rajesh R. Gandhi, Eugene B. Freid, Orlando C. Kirton, Michael J. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations


Introduction: Addressing an unexpected shortfall of intensivists requires early identification and training of appropriate personnel The purpose of this study was to determine how U.S. medical students are currently educated and tested on acute care health principles. Hypothesis/Methods: A survey of critical care education with telephone follow-up was mailed to the deans of all 126 medical schools. Web site review of medical school curricula for critical care education was performed. Upon invited request, four members of the Undergraduate Medical Education Committee (UGMEC) reviewed 1,200 pool questions of step II of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) given to graduating medical students for critical care content. Descriptive statistics are employed. Results: Survey response rate was 49% and 88% by the second mailing with Web site review. Forty-five percent of U.S. medical schools responding had formal undergraduate critical care didactic curricula averaging 12 ± 3 hrs: 60% were elective, 60% taught in the 4th year. Eighty percent of clinical ICU rotations offered were elective. Sixty percent of schools taught 11 key critical care procedures in the 3rd or 4th year, 17% required them to graduate. Nineteen percent of Step II USMLE questions had critical care content; 58% dealt with pulmonary or cardiac disease. Conclusions: Graduating medical students are tested (and licensed accordingly) on critical care knowledge, despite an inconsistent exposure to the discipline in medical school. The UGMEC has drafted competency-based recommendations for acute health care delivery that encourage mandatory didactic and procedural critical care training. The UGMEC recommends that critical care rotations with didactic curricula be required for undergraduate education and that acute care procedural skills be an important component of these curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1949-1956
Number of pages8
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004



  • Competency
  • Critical care medicine
  • Evaluation
  • Intensive care unit
  • Medical school education
  • Staffing
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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