Only about 15% of medical schools in the U.S. offer competency-based graduation (CBG), and VCU School of Medicine is proud to make the option available to our students. The program provides early mentorship and clinical training in the student’s chosen specialty, and students who successfully meet the requirements graduate in three years instead of four, progressing directly into a VCU or VCU-affiliated residency. This unique opportunity also aims to address the physician workforce shortage in Virginia, as those who stay for residency are more likely to remain in the Commonwealth to practice.
VCU School of Medicine participates in the Consortium of Accelerated Medical Pathway Programs (CAMPP), a group of North American medical schools offering the three-year pathway.
The program's first cohort graduated in 2020. Read about their journeys here.
Preclinical phase remains the same. Students learn about the CBG program during interest sessions, and those who have chosen a specialty and want to stay at VCU or a VCU-affiliated program for residency training are encouraged to apply.
Students apply and are pre-enrolled in the CBG program during the first semester, then are placed with a practice of clinical medicine preceptor in their chosen specialty. Full enrollment into the program follows successfully passing USMLE Step 1.
Beginning one month earlier than traditional third-year students, CBG participants follow a custom-designed clinical clerkship schedule that allows them to complete rotations in a specific order. This includes replacing an elective with an acting internship experience in their preferred specialty, and completing USMLE Step 2 in the winter, both of which are moved from the fourth year. They will still complete all the core clerkships.
Participants undergo a rigorous assessment of competency throughout their third year to ensure they remain on track for early graduation. In addition to an accelerated USMLE timeline, the program includes additional direct observation sessions with trained raters during M3. The CBG Clinical Competency Committee, comprised of clerkship directors, residency directors and other School of Medicine leaders, evaluate CBG students every quarter.
Students who remain on track as deemed by the committee will be ranked to match into the VCU residency program of their chosen specialty through the National Resident Matching Program. At any point prior to entering the match, students may leave the CBG program and reenter the traditional four-year pathway.
Interested students should know which VCU residency program they want to enter. The program is designed to allow for early exposure to that program, and we work to align second-year students with a preceptor in their desired specialty. We are actively expanding into other programs, and our currently participating residencies include:
“Being able to accelerate the clinical portion of my training seemed almost too good to be true. I knew what I wanted to do and had already worked with the faculty and residents here and had wonderful experiences.”
Janina Pearce, M.D., Ph.D.
2020 CBG graduate
For more information about the competency-based graduation program, please contact:
Christina Vitto, M.D.
CBG Program Director