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.

Shahida Mizan, center, is part of a small group of students at the VCU School of Medicine who have undergone a rigorous assessment of their competency to graduate in three years instead of the traditional four. These students are guaranteed acceptance into a residency program at VCU Health. (Courtesy of Shahida Mizan)

Program Timeline

M1

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.

M2

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.

M3

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.

“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

Contact Us

For more information about the competency-based graduation program, please contact:

Christina Vitto, M.D.
CBG Program Director
christina.vitto@vcuhealth.org