Undergraduate medical education for the 21st century: leadership and teamwork

Fam Med. 2004 Jan;36 Suppl:S51-6.


Background: The health care delivery system is experiencing enormous flux. The knowledge and skills sets required of today's physicians include expertise in competency areas that have not been included in the traditional medical curricula. The Undergraduate Medical Education for the 21st Century (UME-21) project was designed to develop innovative curricula that addressed the training necessary for medical students to gain skills required to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable care in the modern health care environment. One of the nine UME-21 content areas, leadership and teamwork, has historically received relatively little attention in medical education.

Methods: Each school participating in the UME-21 project submitted a final report that provided information for this descriptive summary of curricular innovations for teaching the concepts of leadership and teamwork to medical students. A classification lexicon for the curricular content and experiences in this content area was derived from these UME-21 project reports. Each school evaluated its curricular innovations independently using a variety of methods, largely descriptive and qualitative in nature.

Results: Eight UME-21 schools developed curricula addressing the content area of leadership and teamwork. The majority of these curricula used the clinical care teams in the clinical rotations to demonstrate the principles and importance of leadership and teamwork. Three of the schools implemented didactic sessions and workshops to explicitly address leadership and teamwork. One school used the gross anatomy dissection teams as the "laboratory" for demonstrating this content material. The evaluations of these curricular efforts showed them to be positively regarded by the medical students. Outcomes of measurable changes in competency in this area of expertise were not evaluated.

Conclusions: There is little past experience in teaching leadership and teamwork in medical school. The UME-21 project supported the design and implementation of several curricular innovations in this content area, which were well received by learners. These eight leadership and teamwork curricula are described, a lexicon outlining the specific content that was addressed in this content area is presented, and lessons learned are included in this report. Further efforts to demonstrate the mastery of new skills in this important content area, based on curricula such as these, are needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship / trends*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Leadership*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools, Medical
  • United States