Schoolwide Values

The mission of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) is to prepare future graduates to be leaders and role models in patient care, medical research, education, and health-care policy. Their experiences at VP&S will enable them to shape the future and set the standards for medicine throughout the United States and the world. Their guided exposure and training will allow them to exhibit the highest principles of humanism and professionalism in their responsibilities to their patients, to their community, and to society.

VP&S graduates will:

  • Be aware of and committed to patients’ best interests within the immediate health-care system and as part of the broader context of health care.
  • Build patients' stories through skillful performance of history, physical, and medical procedures appropriate to the clinical setting with competence and sensitivity.
  • Appreciate the value of inclusion and diversity in creating a rich environment for patient care and learning.
  • Communicate clearly and work respectfully with others.
  • Demonstrate self-awareness and maintain personal wellness.
  • Generate hypotheses, exhibit curiosity, and develop a pattern of lifelong learning.
  • Know the established and evolving biomedical, clinical, and social-behavioral sciences; access, evaluate, and critically apply this knowledge to medical practice.
  • Participate in the process through which new knowledge is generated and assess the importance of novel ideas.
  • Support and motivate team members (both formal and informal) to work effectively.
  • Teach effectively by conveying knowledge to patients, families, and peers and empowering its use.
  • Understand patients deeply, as evidenced by listening, bearing witness, and building and maintaining authentic relationships and healing affiliations.

Patient Care

  • Perform all medical, diagnostic, and surgical procedures considered essential for the area of practice
  • Gather essential and accurate information about patients and their conditions through history-taking, physical examination, and the use of laboratory data, imaging, and other tests Organize and prioritize responsibilities to provide care that is safe, effective, and efficient
  • Interpret laboratory data, imaging studies, and other tests required for the area of practice
  • Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment
  • Develop and carry out patient management plans
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision-making
  • Provide health-care services to patients, families, and communities aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health
  • Provide appropriate role modeling

Knowledge for Practice

  • Demonstrate an investigatory and analytic approach to clinical situations
  • Apply established and emerging biophysical scientific principles fundamental to health care for patients and populations
  • Apply established and emerging principles of clinical sciences to diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, clinical problem-solving, and other aspects of evidence-based health care
  • Apply principles of epidemiological sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease-prevention/health-promotion efforts for patients and populations
  • Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care-seeking, care compliance, and barriers to and attitudes toward care
  • Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health-care knowledge and practices

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

  • Identify strengths, deficiencies, and limits in one's knowledge and expertise
  • Set learning and improvement goals
  • Identify and perform learning activities that address one's gaps in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes
  • Systematically analyze practice using quality-improvement methods and implement changes with the goal of practice improvement
  • Incorporate feedback into daily practice
  • Locate, appraise, and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to patients' health problems
  • Participate in the education of patients, families, students, trainees, peers, and other health professionals
  • Continually identify, analyze, and implement new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, products, or services that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

  • Communicate effectively with patients, families, and the public as appropriate across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds
  • Communicate effectively with colleagues within one's profession or specialty, other health professionals, and health-related agencies
  • Work effectively with others as a member or leader of a health-care team or other professional group
  • Act in a consultative role to other health professionals
  • Maintain comprehensive, timely, and legible medical records
  • Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, and compassion in difficult conversations, including those about death, end of life, adverse events, bad news, disclosure of errors, and other sensitive topics
  • Demonstrate insight and understanding about emotions and human responses to emotions that allow one to develop and manage interpersonal interactions


  • Demonstrate compassion, integrity, and respect for others
  • Demonstrate accountability to patients, society, and the profession
  • Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including but not limited to diversity in gender, age, culture, race, religion, disabilities, and sexual orientation
  • Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, informed consent, and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies, and regulations

Systems-Based Practice

  • Work effectively in various health-care delivery settings and systems relevant to one's clinical specialty

Interprofessional Collaboration

  • Work with other health professionals to establish and maintain a climate of mutual respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity, and trust
  • Use the knowledge of one’s own role and the roles of other health professionals to appropriately assess and address the health-care needs of the patients and populations served
  • Communicate with other health professionals in a responsive and responsible manner that supports the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease in individual patients and populations

Personal and Professional Development

  • Develop the ability to use self-awareness of knowledge, skills, and emotional limitations to engage in appropriate help-seeking behaviors
  • Practice flexibility and maturity in adjusting to change with the capacity to alter one's behavior
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness that makes colleagues feel secure when one is responsible for the care of patients
  • Demonstrate self-confidence that puts patients, families, and members of the health-care team at ease
  • Recognize that ambiguity is part of clinical health care and respond by utilizing appropriate resources in dealing with uncertainty

These statements represent the schoolwide values for the VP&S curriculum. Students will be expected to demonstrate mastery of each prior to graduation.