20 Clinical Practice Guidelines That Medical Students Should Know

Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Laura Turner

Updated February 17, 2022. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and formatting.

Clinical practice guidelines are the backbone of evidence-based medicine. While there are literally thousands of published guidelines, a few of them are particularly relevant to medical students. Below is a list of the top guidelines and where you may encounter these diseases and conditions during your required and/or elective clinical rotations. These guidelines were chosen due to a number of factors, including prevalence, severity, complexity, and strength of recommendations. A recent study showed that over 68,000 deaths could be prevented every year if clinicians followed the ACC/AHA Heart Failure guidelines. That’s a massive number, and that’s just one of these 20 guidelines. At some point in your journey to becoming a healthcare provider, you will encounter these conditions, and having insight into what the guidelines recommend can make all of the difference when it comes to your patients’ outcomes. As the previously-mentioned study showed, it can even mean life or death.

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Top 20 Most Important Guidelines for Students
Required Rotations
Internal Medicine /
Cardiovascular Risk Assessment – ACC/AHA
Heart Attack – ACC/AHA
Heart Failure – ACC/AHA
Acute Ischemic Stroke – AHA/ASA
OBGYNDiabetes and Pregnancy – The Endocrine Society
Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy – ATA
Breast Cancer – ASCO
PsychiatryOpioid Addiction – ASAM
Schizophrenia – NEI
PediatricsTympanostomy Tubes in Children – AAO-HNSF
Anaphylaxis – ACAAI/AAAAI
Pediatric Community-Acquired Pneumonia – ATS/IDSA
SurgeryPeripheral Artery Disease – ACC/AHA
Tympanostomy Tubes in Children – AAO-HNSF
NeurologyAcute Ischemic Stroke – AHA/ASA
Elective Rotations
Infectious DiseaseSkin and Soft Tissue Infections – IDSA
Prevention of HAIs – SHEA/IDSA
Diagnosis of Tuberculosis – IDSA/ATS
Ophthalmology /
Comprehensive Eye Exam – AAO
PodiatryDiabetic Foot Infection – IDSA
Peripheral Artery Disease – ACC/AHA
OncologyBreast Cancer – ASCO
GastroenterologyConstipation – AGA
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – AGA
Rheumatology /
Osteoarthritis – ACR
EndocrinologyDiabetes and Pregnancy – The Endocrine Society
Cardiovascular Risk Assessment – ACC/AHA
Emergency MedicineAnaphylaxis – ACAAI/AAAAI
Heart Attack – ACC/AHA
Opioid Addiction – ASAM
Acute Ischemic Stroke – AHA/ASA
DermatologySkin and Soft Tissue Infections – IDSA
Health Promotion /
Community Medicine
Diagnosis of Tuberculosis – IDSA/ATS

So there you have it. Whether you’re a premed or in your last year of residency, these are the 20 most important guidelines you need to be aware of.

Guideline Central has summarized these guidelines into a quick reference format. The guideline summaries will allow you to quickly identify and understand the key points and decision variables. Not only will it save you time, but it will help you with your rotations and contribute to improved patient outcomes when the guidelines are followed.

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