Family Medicine

Assessment Objectives

Competence has been defined as:

the habitual and judicious use of communication, knowledge, technical skills, clinical reasoning, emotions, values, and reflection in daily practice for the benefit of the individual and community being served."   Epstein & Hundert, 2002

Understanding The Sentinel Habits

The following documents provide further information for understanding the skills required for each of the Sentinel Habits. 

Professionalism Clinical Reasoning Skills 
Selectivity The Patient-Centred Approach
Procedure Skills Communication Skills

Priority Topics

The following document describes the 99 Priority Topics and key features that family physicians have identified as been relevant to Family Medicine. 

Relationship Between Sentinel Habits, Skill Dimensions and CanMED Roles

We use Sentinel Habits to direct attention to the higher order skills, approaches, and attitudes essential to being a competent family physician. The Sentinel Habits are phrased in everyday language, yet map to the College of Family Physicians Essential Skill Dimensions of Family Medicine, and to the CanMEDS-FM roles.


Sentinel habits
Skills Dimension(s)
CanMED Roles
Incorporates the patient’s experience and context into problem identification and management The Patient Centred Approach

Family Medicine Expert

Health Advocate
Generates relevant hypotheses resulting in a safe and prioritized differential diagnosis

Clinical Reasoning Skills

Family Medicine Expert

Manages patients using available best practices

Clinical Reasoning Skills

Family Medicine Expert

Selects and attends to the appropriate focus and priority in a situation
Family Medicine Expert
Uses generic key features when performing a procedure (such as knowing indications and contraindications., etc.)
Procedural Skills

Family Medicine Expert

Demonstrates respect and/or responsibility to patients, colleagues and staff


Health Advocate

Verbal or written communication is clear and timely

Communication Skills

Helps others learn (teaches colleagues in a useful manner)

Promotes effective practice quality (eg. EMR use, practice audits)
Seeks and responds appropriately to guidance and feedback All Skill Dimensions
All Roles

Clinical Domains

Family Medicine encompasses care across a wide range of populations and contexts. We organize this diversity into Clinical Domains to help organize your thinking as you learn to be a competent family physician.