SMART Goals for the Clinical Years

A key feature in developing expertise is how you set goals.

For anyone trying to keep New Year’s resolutions, you can appreciate that setting effective goals and following through is not easy.“Be more organized” or “get healthier” rarely lead to concrete successes. Vague and/or overwhelming goals that lack definitive outcomes don’t lead to expertise.  One helpful strategy comes from the business community and is called SMART goals.


SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound


You will submit at least one set of written SMART goals with reflection at your mid-point meeting. You will also include strategies you will use to meet your objectives and the method you plan to use to assess whether you have achieved your objectives.

The following guidelines may help you.

1. Reflect on your performance in medical school thus far and identify what you did well and what you would like to have done better (self-assessment).

2. Decide which areas you need to focus on the most (prioritize).

3. Create specific learning objectives and describe strategies you plan to use to achieve them.

– Ask yourself how you will reach your objectives and how you will know when you got there. If you can’t answer these questions, then your objectives are probably not specific enough.

– Use active verbs, e.g. organize, prioritize

4. Decide how you will get feedback on your objectives.

5. Decide when you should re-assess your objectives.

Submission Criteria

Entries should include the following:

  • Evidence of self-assessment
  • Learning objectives are specific and include strategies and methods of assessment
  • Evidence of reassessment and reflection upon progress

Failure to complete this requirement will lower your PBLI score by a point.