Core Competency Project

In 2009, Royal College Council endorsed Directions for Residency Education, 2009: A Final Report of the Core Competency Project. This project was undertaken in conjunction with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) to address three complex, interrelated and recurring questions in Canadian medical education:

  • Does the postgraduate admissions system allow medical students to make appropriate career choices (“Career Decision-Making”)?
  • Does the postgraduate system allow for appropriate switching of residents or physicians between career disciplines (“Flexibility”)?
  • Are the structures and processes of the current system (within the scope of the Royal College and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)) designed for the best possible output of physicians to meet societal needs (“Quality PGME”)?

The project’s final report highlighted two key recommendations. Primarily, the Royal College was advised to:

  • Review and enhance the criteria and categories for specialty recognition
  • Promote flexibility, lifelong learning, retention in practice and the development of new areas of expertise, without harming generalist specialties

Implementing the recommendations

From 2009 to 2011, the Office of Specialty Education worked to implement the CCP’s recommendations by introducing three new categories of discipline recognition:

  • Areas of Focused Competence (diplomas) are highly focused areas of practice that address a legitimate societal need but do not meet the criteria for a specialty or subspecialty.
  • Fundamentals programs are a core curriculum of fundamental competencies in a domain of medicine that is the common training for several related disciplines to build upon.
  • Special Interest Groups of Medical Activity (SIGMAs) are emerging areas of interest in specialty medicine or a community of practice. SIGMAs may be formed independently by individuals interested in investigating future options for discipline recognition, but are not formally supported by the Royal College at this time.

In addition to primary specialties and subspecialties, these categories are designed to help create a continuum of discipline recognition, with more flexibility to recognize disciplines that do not meet the current criteria of a primary specialty or a subspecialty.

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