Exit competencies in pathology and laboratory medicine for graduating medical students: the Canadian approach

Hum Pathol. 2015 May;46(5):637-42. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2015.01.016. Epub 2015 Feb 14.


Physicians in every medical and surgical field must be able to use pathology concepts and skills in their practice: for example, they must order and interpret the correct laboratory tests, they must use their understanding of pathogenesis to diagnose and treat, and they must work with the laboratory to care for their patients. These important concepts and skills may be ignored by medical schools and even national/international organizations setting graduation expectations for medical students. There is an evolving international consensus about the importance of exit competencies for medical school graduates, which define the measurable or observable behaviors each graduate must be able to demonstrate. The Canadian Association of Pathologists (CAP) Education Group set out to establish the basic competencies in pathology and laboratory medicine which should be expected of every medical graduate: not competencies for pathologists, but for medical graduates who intend to enter any residency program. We defined 4 targets for pathology and laboratory medicine exit competencies: that they represent only measurable behaviors, that they be clinically focused, that they be generalizable to every medical graduate, and that the final competency document be user-friendly. A set of competencies was developed iteratively and underwent final revision at the 2012 CAP annual meeting. These competencies were subsequently endorsed by the CAP executive and the Canadian Leadership Council on Laboratory Medicine. This clinically focused consensus document provides the first comprehensive list of exit competencies in pathology and laboratory medicine for undergraduate medical education.

Keywords: Competencies; Competency-based education; Laboratory medicine; Objectives; Pathology; Undergraduate medical education.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / trends*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Pathology*
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Students, Medical*