Personal and Professional Development (PPD) Facilitators' Guide

Publication ID Published Volume
167 January 23, 2007 3


The Personal and Professional Development (PPD) curriculum consists of 14 sessions, each two hours long. Topics covered include:

  1. Introduction to Personal and Professional Development
  2. Professionalism
  3. The Medical Interview
  4. History of the Present Illness/Team Interaction
  5. Interview Session #1
  6. Understanding the Social Context of Medicine
  7. Cultural Competence in Medicine
  8. Role Model Session: Complete History and Discussion
  9. Service Activity
  10. Interview Session #2
  11. Physician-Patient Communication
  12. Death and Dying / Spirituality
  13. Patient Counseling
  14. Balancing the Demands of Medical School with the Rest of Your Life

Sessions 1 and 2 involve one-on-one interactions with simulated patients. These interviews are video recorded and made available via a password protected site for students to review and then discuss with their colleagues during PPD. Two other sessions (Cultural Competence in Medicine and Physician-Patient Communication) involve having two simulated patients visit each group to give students additional practice with history-taking related to specific situations. Readings are selected from the text On Doctoring, from the JAMA series "A Piece of My Mind," or from the Annals of Internal Medicine series, "To be a Doctor/ To be a Patient." Discussion activities are provided for most sessions. The curriculum also includes written assignments to be completed by the students. Feedback from facilitators and students is consistently very positive about this aspect of the course. Most students do at least half of the reading even though they are not tested over the material. The students fared very well on Step 2-CS, part of the reason for that can be attributed to the early beginning (in this course) of the communication skills training.


Ferguson K. Personal and professional development (PPD) facilitators' guide. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2007;3:167.

Educational Objectives

  1. To be able to become a competent, compassionate, and ethical clinician.
  2. To be able to practice medicine in its socio-cultural context.
  3. To be able to continue self-directed learning in clinical practice.
  4. To be able to apply relevant basic and clinical science to the practice of medicine.


  • PPD, Professional Competence, Attitude to Death

Prior Scholarly Dissemination


  1. Rosenbaum ME, Ferguson KJ, Herwaldt LA. In their own words: presenting the patient's perspective using research-based theatre. Med Educ. 2005 Jun;39(6):622-31.
  2. Ferguson KJ and Woodard VS. Personal and Professional Development: A Semester-long Small Group to Promote Social Support, Reflection, and Clinical Skills Development. Poster presented at CGEA, 2004.
  3. Ferguson KJ and Woodard VS. Understanding the Patient's Perspective through Personal and Professional Development Group Discussion. Poster to be presented at the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare. Chicago, Il, October 2005.

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