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Tobacco Control Competencies for US Medical Students

The recently published National Action Plan for Tobacco Cessation (2004) recommended that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “…convene a diverse group of experts to ensure that competency in tobacco dependence interventions is a core graduation requirement for all new physicians and other key health care professionals.” Core competencies would guide the design of new modules and explicitly outline the learning objectives that all medical students should have met upon graduation. In 2002, the National Cancer Institute funded a consortium of 12 US medical schools to develop, test, and integrate tobacco curricula throughout the four years of medical school. Since there was neither an explicit set of tobacco competencies for medical schools, nor a process to develop them, one of the consortium’s first tasks was to articulate competencies and learning objectives. We look forward to critical review of these competencies prior to the development and subsequent dissemination of new curricula.

Development of Competencies

Tobacco competencies were derived from a 5-step process that included:

_____a) An assessment of the current status of tobacco teaching at the
_______12 participating universities
_____b) Establishment of criteria to guide the development of tobacco
_______control competencies
_____c) Review of tobacco control practice recommendations and those
_______ofleading practice organizations
_____d) Review of the development of competencies for similar health
_______promotion efforts in medical schools
_____e) Drafting and consensus by the 12 schools on the competencies
_______needed to guide tobacco modules


In order to guide curriculum development as well as enable evaluation, it is important to articulate learning objectives, including affective (A), cognitive (C) and skills (S) objectives. Competencies were organized according to:

1) Adult cessation and prevention competencies

2) Pediatric cessation and prevention competencies

3) Public health advocacy/population science competencies

4) Support systems in clinic/medical setting competencies

5) Professional development/global competencies

The full set of competencies have been submitted for publication. We will gladly discuss specifics of these competencies with all interested parties.

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