by Dr. Richard M. Schwartzstein
Medical education is constantly changing to meet the demands of our evolving health care system. One of these changes is the development and implementation of competency-based medical education (CBME). CBME is an outcomes-based approach to the design, implementation, and evaluation of education programs and to the assessment of learners that focuses on observable abilities. The goal of CBME is to ensure that all learners achieve the desired patient-centered outcomes during their training.
Among the competencies expected of all students is the ability to reason through a case to determine the patient’s problem. Among the best approaches for teaching, and possibly assessing, reasoning skills are concept maps or mechanism maps - simple diagrams that visually represents relationships between concepts and ideas using circles (also called nodes) connected with lines (also called arcs). These lines are labeled with linking words and phrases, which often elaborate physiological mechanisms of disease or signs and symptoms associated with these mechanisms, to help explain the connections between concepts.