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The Expert Skills Program at Texas Tech

"I'm beginning to notice some improvement!"

              - Pablo Casals' reply when asked why, at the age of 93, he continued
                to practice the cello for three hours a day (from an interview with 
                Pablo Casals, master cellist)

The Expert Skills Program (ESP) at Texas Tech was implemented in March, 2012, as a free access professional skill development opportunity for all interested students regardless of their institution.  The ESP is named to reflect the broad goal of acquiring expert skills in areas ranging from clinical reasoning, patient examination, and communication to the fine motor skills employed in clinical procedures.  We have been able to initiate skill development prior to formal clinical training by matching the steps used in clinical skills to the steps involved in higher order thinking skills.

  • The ESP provides a step-by-step process to demonstrate how higher order thinking and memorization thinking combine to produce whole brain skills that are needed in clinical practice.  
  • The ESP is based on evidence from human performance research over the past decade that has identified the practices necessary to achieve expert skill development in the practice of medicine.
  • The concept that has emerged as the key to skill development is Deliberate Practice (DP).
  • Deliberate Practice serves as the core concept in the Expert Skills Program at Texas Tech. 

Expert Skills Program Blocks

Learn how to employ Deliberate Practice to develop higher order thinking skills and memory skills.  Our evidence-based program teaches how both clinical skills and learning skills use the same areas of the brain.  The ESP is designed to individually customize learning practices using brain-based concepts. 

--Click on the link in the heading to learn more about each block--

ESP Block 1: Self-Study Activities – A discovery activity

  • Applying the latest brain research to efficiently develop higher order thinking skills
  • Can be applied to remaining premedical learning; develops skills prior to the increased pace of medical education
  • Highly effective preparation for starting medical school for any student anywhere
  • Preparation for Block 2 training workshops
  • Examines several core concepts:
    • The importance of learning style
    • The neurobiology of learning
    • The role of slow wave sleep in changing the brain
    • Concept mapping for maximal efficiency in reading

ESP Block 2: Orientation Week Training Workshops – An application activity

  • Hands-on application of powerful and efficient methods that apply DP:
    • Concept mapping
    • Self-directed group analysis of practice questions
  • Facilitates adaptation to medical school
  • Prepares students to optimize their group participation
  • Correlated with first topics in anatomy course for maximum relevance

ESP Block 3:Step 1 Preparation – A skill development activity

  • Meets brain-based criteria more effectively than any Step 1 method, free or paid
  • Not a last minute review course
    • Involves ongoing preparation from beginning of year 1.
    • Participation can begin at any time in year 1 and continued through year 2
  • Application of question analysis method to small group Step 1 problems
  • Builds integrative skills, especially in students with linear learning preferences
  • Easy adaptation for those who “don’t like groups”
  • Potential for use in modified form during clinical clerkships and residency/fellowship
    • Already in use in several residency programs in anesthesiology, internal medicine, and surgery.


  • Newly accepted TTUHSC SOM students will receive an invitation to join this program by email. 
  • Registration in the ESP is voluntary – and it must be voluntary to meet the professionalism standards of Deliberate Practice. 

Students and faculty at other schools (or residency programs) can follow the non-TTUHSC navigation link for a parallel program designed for them. 

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