Descriptions of the themes can be found in the Academic Calendar. For more information, contact Theme Leads and Coordinators

Themes in the Foundations Curriculum are organized differently, please see Foundations Curriculum courses, components & themes

Black Health

The MD Program’s Black Health Theme provides health education regarding the Black people of Canada, about Black Canadian health, and inequities due to systemic racism.  This theme reflects 1) the Faculty’s commitment to social responsibility and addressing the health needs of individuals and populations across local, national and global settings; and 2) more specifically the Faculty’s commitment to addressing the health needs of Black people of Canada, one of the priority populations identified in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine Diversity Statement. 

The Black Health Theme Lead, also provides support for students who are conducting educational sessions and research on a Black Health theme, involved in Faculty of Medicine programs including the Black Student Application Program (Enrolment Services) to improve the diversity of the incoming class, and with Black students participating in the Summer Mentorship Program (Office of Health Professions Student Affairs) as well as other outreach initiatives. 

Clinical Skills

The clinical skills theme encompasses a patient-centered approach to medical interviewing and counseling, physical examination and clinical reasoning. As such, this theme includes much of what a physician must master and as students, you will be supported throughout your training to acquire these skills. The curriculum will be developmental, aligned and integrated across years and courses. In years one and two, teaching will be a focus of two courses, Clinical Skills I and II, and you will have an opportunity to practice further during clinically-based observerships. In third and fourth year, as you immerse yourself in clinical rotations, you will continue to expand your clinical skills within the context of the various medical and surgical subspecialties. Direct observation of your interviewing, physical examination, and counseling by expert faculty will be supplemented by OSCE-style assessments to provide you with corrective feedback.

In order to meet the needs of students who will likely develop their clinical abilities at different rates, students will be able to access additional coaching as necessary. These opportunities will include, but not be limited to, work with student-run clinical skills interest groups and expert, dedicated volunteer faculty through the Clinical Skills Coaches Program. Students who are identified as needing remedial attention on the basis of their performance within courses, rotations, or on examinations, will be referred to the Clinical SCORE Program for more structured and intensive support.

Collaborator / Interprofessional Education

Interdisciplinary collaboration is an integral component of health care and is associated with improved patient outcomes. The guiding principles of Interprofessional Education (IPE) are similar to those defined by the collaborator competency in the MD Program. The collaborator objectives will be accomplished through your participation in a variety of theme-specific learning activities across the four years of medical school. One of the chief ways in which this educational content is delivered is via the formal mandatory IPE curriculum. The IPE curriculum has been developed for Health Care Professional students from across 11 University of Toronto programs (Dentistry, Medical Radiation Sciences, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Kinesiology and Physical Education, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Social Work, and Speech-Language Pathology and Medicine), and is delivered under the auspices of the Centre for IPE. To complete the IPE curriculum, you will take part in both core and elective learning activities throughout your four-year MD Program. 

As a medical graduate, you will be able to meet the curriculum objectives listed under 'collaborator' on the MD Program competencies page.

For more information on your mandatory curricular graduation requirements, electives calendar/registration and to view your IPE record, login to the IPE Management System 

Ethics & Professionalism / Professional Role

We are committed to helping students develop the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to fulfill your future professional responsibilities to the best of your abilities and to the satisfaction of your patients and society. In order to achieve this goal, our core curriculum for the professional role facilitates acquisition of the relevant knowledge and skills as well as understanding and development of appropriate attitudes, and provides opportunities to develop reflective capacity. It includes longitudinal assessment in the following key areas: ethics; professional relationships and behaviour; medical jurisprudence; physician health; capacity for reflective practice; and understanding of the nature of the medical profession’s commitments to society and to self-regulation.

As a medical graduate, you will be able to meet the curriculum objectives listed under 'professional' on the MD Program competencies page.

Older Adult Medicine

The proportion of the population that is elderly continues to grow. The elderly have special health care needs and future physicians must be prepared to provide optimal care to them. Accordingly, a care of the elderly/geriatrics theme has been established and a theme lead appointed during the 2014-15 academic year.

The purpose of this theme is to develop appropriate learning objectives that support the learning of core competencies related to geriatrics in light of the national geriatrics curriculum throughout the four-year program. The Older Adult Medicine Faculty Leads work in collaboration with course directors and other theme leads to design appropriate learning activities that permit students to achieve these competencies. Assessment activities are also jointly designed to ensure students have in fact reached the required milestones.

Health Humanities

Health humanities can be defined as a sustained interdisciplinary and interprofessional inquiry into aspects of medical practice, education, and research, expressly concerned with the humanistic side of medicine. This theme is explored in all four years of the MD Program through core curriculum and electives and is shaped by the health, arts and humanities program. This program advances a deeper understanding of health, illness, suffering, disability, human dignity and the provision of care by creating a community of scholars in the arts, humanities and clinical and social sciences. It also encourages the development of skills and attitudes essential to providing person-centered care with a focus on:

  • narrative competence: the capacity to appreciate, interpret and work empathically with the stories of others
  • reflective capacity: the ability to step back to interpret both subjective and objective experiences as a part of learning and to foster professional wellbeing
  • critical thinking: the ability to solve problems creatively and to analyze and critique knowledge using the multiple lenses provided by the arts and health humanities
  • visual literacy:  the ability to work with non-verbal cues, images and visual narratives

Further information about health humanities programming and resources is available on the University of Toronto Health, Arts and Humanities Program webpage.

Indigenous Health

The Indigenous peoples of Canada (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) face health inequities when compared to the general population. Highlighting Aboriginal health issues and traditional concepts of health and healing will equip our students with the tools to better serve the Indigenous population as physicians. 

The theme of Indigenous health is integrated throughout the curriculum through problem-based learning cases, community placements, electives and selectives in a variety of Aboriginal populations (rural, urban, reserve) and summer research programs.  You will encounter topics in traditional Indigenous concepts of health (The Medicine Wheel), health status, historical and political influences on health and health care delivery and the social determinants of Aboriginal health and the concept of cultural safety.  You will use self-reflection as a tool to advance therapeutic encounters with patients and to guide interactions with marginalized patients or in difficult clinical scenarios. 

For details about Indigenous programming and curriculum, visit the Office of Indigenous Medical Education.


The leader (formerly manager) curriculum addresses the content and skill domains necessary to meet the CanMEDS Leader objectives and refers to the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be an effective leader in the health care system.

Leader theme content is delivered throughout the MD Program curriculum a variety of learning experiences including lectures, small group learning and simulations using tools such as Harvard business cases, change management simulations, and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) leadership curriculum – in both foundations and clerkship. As the Leader theme is focused on skill development, several sessions are applied scenarios. 

As a medical graduate, you will be able to meet the curriculum objectives listed under 'Leader' on the MD Program competencies page.

Learn about the Leadership opportunities available to MD Program students.

2SLGBTQIA+ Health Education

The health disparities and unique health needs of the  2-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual + (2SLGBTQIA+) population are becoming increasingly recognized by public health researchers and the medical community. Insufficient numbers of physicians competent in dealing with 2SLGBTQIA+ health issues have been identified as a substantial barrier to accessing care for these patients. The 2SLGBTQIA+ health theme aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to provide clinically and culturally competent care to patients who are 2SLGBTQIA+ identified. Students will gain an appreciation of the impact of stereotypes, assumptions and physician attitudes on health outcomes of 2SLGBTQIA+ patients, and you will be encouraged in turn to examine and explore your own perspectives and possible biases.

The 2SLGBTQIA+ health theme aims to incorporate innovative strategies to deliver relevant curriculum content in an interactive, dynamic and meaningful way. 2SLGBTQIA+ community members will be involved in all aspects of curricular development, delivery, and evaluation. By fostering attitudes of appreciation for diversity and respect for difference, the Temerty Faculty of Medicine aims to create a climate in which all 2SLGBTQIA+ identified faculty, students and patients feel supported, included and safe.

Social Justice, Anti-oppression and Advocacy

The MD-PGME Social Justice, Anti-Oppression and Advocacy theme relates to health and advocacy education from an anti-oppressive lens, which reflects Temerty Medicine’s commitment to 1) social justice, social responsibility and addressing the health needs of individuals and populations across local, national and global settings; 2) addressing the health needs of marginalized, oppressed, minoritized, and racialized peoples and populations, including but not limited to those identified in the Temerty Faculty’s Diversity Statement, and; 3) enabling and supporting intersectional cultural safety, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and advocacy teaching and learning that is integrated into the MD Program curriculum and provided by PGME residency programs.

Medical Imaging

The medical imaging theme is explored throughout the four years of the MD Program. In the first two years of the program, you learn about radiologic anatomy, have the opportunity to deepen your learning of anatomy through the use of ultrasound which is used to teach abdominal and musculoskeletal anatomy and are introduced to neuroradiology through lectures and problem-based learning tutorials. You have the option to participate in an interactive neuroimaging workshop in your first year and may also participate in research projects with Radiologists in your second year. You will be provided with small-group teaching sessions addressing chest x-ray interpretation, imaging in the context of trauma and obstetric ultrasound. 

In the last two years of the program, students participate in many case-based and small group interactive seminars that address chest imaging, abdominal imaging and neuroimaging. In third year rotations, students learn about the role of medical imaging in surgery and have the option to choose electives and selectives within the medical imaging specialty.

Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics

Instruction in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics is distributed throughout the four years of the MD Program. Formal teaching in pharmacology primarily occurs during the two years of foundations and in the Transition to Clerkship course. In first year, you are introduced to the principles of pharmacology in lectures and seminars. Therapeutic drug classes are introduced with the appropriate systems, with an emphasis on their mechanisms of action. In second year, appropriate drug therapies (often involving a combination of drug classes) are taught in an integrated fashion with the diseases of interest. Some specific drugs and dosages are discussed during clerkship.

Public Health

The public health theme intends to create and deliver a public health curriculum that supports physicians-in-training to adopt a population health approach in their practice as health care providers with the aim of improving health outcomes and decreasing inequities.

Public health can be defined as “The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts of society” (Acheson, 1988). Its core functions include data-related actions (surveillance, epidemiology, population health assessment); health protection (including following up on communicable disease and environmental health concerns); health promotion; disease and injury prevention; and emergency preparedness and response.

The Public Health theme is integrated throughout the curriculum through pre-week readings and exercises, problem-based learning cases, community placements, and elective opportunities. Links and synergies with clinical care are highlighted. Public Health theme objectives are linked closely with the Medical Council of Canada ‘Medical Expert’ Objectives in Population Health. Resources to students include The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Public Health Primer. For more information about the public health theme, please contact Dr. Jasmine Pawa or Dr. Farah Manji

Quality and Patient Safety

The Quality and Patient Safety curriculum addresses the content and skill domains necessary to meet the Quality Improvement, Patient Safety, Resource Stewardship and Transitions competencies as defined by the CanMEDS Leader objectives. It addresses the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary as future contributing physicians to continually improve the healthcare system as an integral part of their practice, in both the development and delivery of continuous healthcare improvement measures, and engaging others in working toward this goal. 

The Quality and Patient Safety theme is delivered throughout the MD Program curriculum in a variety of learning experiences including lectures, simulations, Case-Based Learning and modules - in both foundations and clerkship.

As a medical graduate, you will be able to meet the curriculum objectives (1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2 & 3.2) listed under the 'Leader' competency on the MD Program competencies page.

Preclerkship students in seminar