Systems-based practice: the sixth core competency

Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Nov;9(11):1270-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2002.tb01587.x.


Systems-Based Practice (SBP) is the sixth competency defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Outcome Project. Specifically, SBP requires "Residents [to] demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care and the ability to effectively call on system resources to provide care that is of optimal value." This competency can be divided into four subcompetencies, all of which are integral to training emergency medicine (EM) physicians: resources, providers, and systems; cost-appropriate care; delivery systems; and patient advocacy. In March 2002, the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD-EM) convened a consensus conference to assist residency directors in modifying the SBP competency specific for EM. The Consensus Group modified the broad ACGME definition for SBP into EM-specific goals and objectives for residency training in SBP. The primary assessment methods from the Toolbox of Assessment Methods were also identified for SBP. They are direct observation, global ratings, 360-degree evaluations, portfolio assessment, and testing by both oral and written exams. The physician tasks from the Model of the Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine that are most relevant to SBP are out-of-hospital care, modifying factors, legal/professional issues, diagnostic studies, consultation and disposition, prevention and education, multitasking, and team management. Suggested EM residency curriculum components for SBP are already in place in most residency programs, so no additional resources would be required for their implementation. These include: emergency medical services and administrative rotations, directed reading, various interdisciplinary and hospital committee participation, continuous quality improvement project participation, evidence-based medicine instruction, and various didactic experiences, including follow-up, interdisciplinary, and case conferences. With appropriate integration and evaluation of this competency into training programs, it is likely that future generations of physicians and patients will reap the benefits of an educational system that is based on well-defined outcomes and a more systemic view of health care.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Educational Measurement
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / standards
  • Systems Analysis