Medical Council of Canada

Competency descriptors

Competency descriptors

National Assessment Collaboration (NAC)

The following are descriptors of acceptable performance levels per competency for the NAC exam.

  • HISTORY TAKING: Acquires from the patient, family or other source a chronologic, medically logical description of pertinent events; gathers information in sufficient breadth and depth to permit a clear definition of the patient’s problems.
  • PHYSICAL EXAMINATION: Elicits physical findings in an efficient logical sequence that documents the presence or absence of abnormalities, and supports a definition of the patient’s problems; sensitive to the patient’s comfort and modesty; explains actions to the patient.
  • DIAGNOSIS: Discriminates important from unimportant information and reaches a reasonable differential diagnosis and/or diagnosis.
  • DATA INTERPRETATION: Interprets investigative data appropriately in the context of the patient’s problems.
  • INVESTIGATION: Selects suitable laboratory or diagnostic studies to elucidate or confirm the diagnosis; takes into consideration associated risks and benefits.
  • MANAGEMENT: Discusses therapeutic management, including but not limited to pharmacotherapy, adverse effects and patient safety, disease prevention and health promotion, when appropriate; selects appropriate treatments (including monitoring, counseling, follow-up); considers risks and benefits of therapy and instructs the patient accordingly.
  • COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Uses a patient-centered approach; establishes trust and respect, and shows sensitivity to the patient’s needs; provides clear information; confirms patient’s understanding (encourages questions, and uses repetition and summarizing to confirm and/or reinforce understanding); respects confidentiality when appropriate; speaks clearly (volume and rate); avoids use of jargon/slang and uses vocabulary appropriate to the patient; demonstrates appropriate non-verbal communication (e.g., eye contact, gesture, posture and use of silence).