Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Principles We Value

In fall 2012, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine initiated its renewed curriculum. More than 200 faculty members and 75 students contributed to creating the unified vision of how today’s students could be consistently engaged and appropriately challenged in a technologically advanced learning environment. Organizing principles were developed to help shape the goals, objectives, and learning strategies for the new curriculum and to form the basis upon which to evaluate its impact.

Eight principles were articulated:


Feinberg’s competency structure forms the basis for setting educational goals and objectives and defining our assessment system. Learn more about the eight core competencies.


Content is integrated within all parts of the curriculum both longitudinally and vertically. Clinical and foundational sciences are present throughout all phases of learning. Learning is always in context of patient care and patient care is always based upon scientific principles.


When possible, student exposure to mentors and patients will be longitudinal to optimize learning and clinical skills acquisition. Continuity with mentors and peers will help students develop deeper relationships and more meaningful collaborations through our 4 year college system.


Our learning environment motivates and prepares students to efficiently seek, acquire, synthesize, and apply new knowledge to solve complex problems. The physician of the future needs to be able to filter, archive, and evaluate information accessed in multiple formats.


State-of-the-art teaching methodologies, strategies, and technologies will be used throughout the new curriculum, with an emphasis on the evidence-based practice of medicine.

Adaptive and Personalized

While learning outcomes need to be standardized, the curriculum will take into account the strengths and potential of each student and how outcomes can be optimized for the individual. The Area of Scholarly Concentration will be a primary vehicle by which a student is able to navigate a personalized pathway to professional achievement. Early exposure to clinical disciplines and different care settings will aid career decision-making, and students will have the flexibility during the third year to explore different career choices earlier than ever before.

Professional Development

Feinberg continues to emphasize professionalism, reflection, personal growth, and accountability, while providing trainees with a learning environment that supports and reinforces their humanity and compassion. Students are placed into 1 of 4 colleges. Their college mentor oversees their growth and development over all 4 years and hoods them at graduation.

Community Engagement/Service Learning

Students must be able to develop the skills to serve patients, society, and the profession. By situating learning environments in the community and developing the skills with which to effect change, students will develop into leaders capable of making a difference.