Background and objectives: There have been dramatic changes in the specialty of family medicine and the American health care system in the more than 40 years since the formation of the specialty. As a result, there is urgent need for experimentation and innovation in residency training to better prepare family physicians.
Methods: Waukesha Family Medicine Residency used a strategic planning process to identify four guiding concepts for a new model of residency education: intentional diversification; options for advanced training in a fourth year of residency; longitudinal, competency-based training; and strong fundamental background in family medicine skills. These concepts guided radical restructuring of the curriculum.
Results: The new Majors and Masteries curriculum begins with 19 months of training in core family medicine skills. Residents then elect to pursue a Major or Mastery in an area of interest. Majors are completed within 3 years, while Masteries are completed in 4 years and include advanced training (MPH, MBA, advanced obstetrics). Since implementation, residents have selected a broad range of Majors, three residents have elected advanced training in three different mastery areas, and resident recruitment has not been disrupted.
Conclusions: The Majors and Masteries curriculum and the process used to implement it may benefit other residencies considering radical curriculum change.