Original Publication
Open Access

Task-Oriented Processes in Care (TOPIC) Model for Ambulatory Care

Published: November 10, 2006 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.306

Included in this publication:

  • Run Files
  • TOPIC Part a
  • TOPIC Part b
  • _notes
  • images
  • movies
  • noflash
  • qt5-installer

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Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


This resource is a complete curriculum on the Task-Oriented Processes in Care (TOPIC) model, featuring all of the educational materials developed for use in student and resident teaching on the model, including slides, handouts, videos, case scenarios, and checklists for a TOPIC clinical performance examination. The TOPIC model conceptualizes the work of generalist physicians as processes and tasks during five prototypic visits: new problem visits, checkup visits, chronic illness visits, psychosocial visits, and behavioral change visits. During these visits, clinicians complete four major processes: information processing, patient-physician relationship development, integration of information and relationship, and lifelong learning. Each type of visit includes specific tasks that reflect the purpose of that type of visit. For example, at a chronic illness visit, physicians gather information to assess severity and control of the disease, determine adherence with treatment plan and presence of medication side effects, seek evidence of target-organ damage, and scan for other risk factors for complications. These tasks are different than those for the four other types of visits. Extensive data from performance-based assessments demonstrate that clerkship students and family medicine residents can perform the TOPIC tasks in simulated encounters. Assessment of the curriculum demonstrates that TOPIC is an effective teaching model that spans the continuum of medical education, from students to residents. Since the TOPIC model is a metacognitive framework that focuses on process and not on content or facts, some learners do not immediately appreciate the value of explicitly learning a cognitive strategy for approaching their work. We know that experts use these types of strategies and that novices develop them in the decade it takes to become an expert. TOPIC tries to shorten this developmental period by making the metacognitive thinking explicit, but some learners prefer the more familiar didactic presentations of medical knowledge about specific conditions. This model is robust and can be taught through many educational mediums by a variety of faculty members. The clerkship teaching has been done by different teachers using different seminar processes over the past decade, yet students still learn to perform the tasks in the end-of-clerkship clinical performance examination.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this curriculum, learners will be able to:

  1. Describe physician tasks for five prototypic ambulatory visits.
  2. Describe teaching strategies used in seminar sessions.
  3. Adapt didactic presentation outlines to teach in various formats.
  4. Describe the use of the Task-Oriented Processes in Care (TOPIC) model for clinical teaching.
  5. Explain integration of the TOPIC model with the five-step microskills model of clinical teaching.
  6. Discuss reinforcement of the TOPIC model with independent case studies.
  7. Discuss training of preceptors in use of the TOPIC model in clinical teaching.
  8. Select appropriate methods and instruments to evaluate learner performance of TOPIC tasks.

Author Information

  • John C. Rogers, MD, MPH: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Jane Corboy, MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • William Huang, MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • F. Marconi Monteiro, EdD, MA, MSEd: Baptist University of the Americas

None to report.

None to report.

Prior Presentations
Corboy J, Rogers J. Teaching the way we really practice: didactic teaching with the Task-Oriented Processes in Care model. Seminar presented at: Annual Meeting of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; May 2000; Orlando, FL.

Corboy J, Rogers J. What’s the TOPIC? Redefining the ACGME Competencies for Ambulatory Care in Family Medicine. Seminar presented at: Annual Spring Meeting of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; May 2004; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Dains J, Huang W, Monteiro M, et al. Medical student performance outcomes from the “TOPIC” curriculum: 3 year evaluation. Poster presented at: Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting, Research in Medical Education Conference; November 2001; Washington, DC.

Rogers J, Dains J, Chang T. A “process of care” curriculum for teaching generalist competencies. Seminar presented at: Annual Meeting of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; April 1999; Seattle, WA.

Rogers J, Huang W, Dains J, Corboy J, Williams F, Monteiro FM. A “Task-Oriented Processes in Care” curriculum to teach ambulatory care to medical students and residents. Presented at: UME-21 Undergraduate Medical Education for the 21st Century Annual Meeting; March 2001; Washington, DC.


Rogers J, Corboy J, Huang W, Monteiro F. Task-Oriented Processes in Care (TOPIC) model for ambulatory care. MedEdPORTAL. 2006;2:306. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.306