BACKGROUND: A mulidisciplinary, competency-based trauma teaching program was introduced for final year medical students (n = 67) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in 1994 to complement the surgical clerkship. METHODS: The method involved small groups rotating through a series of teaching stations each structured to address a predetermined competency. Four 3-hour sessions were held on the subject areas of resuscitation, plastic, orthopedic, and neurotrauma. Performance in the trauma section of a summative Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), 6 months after the teaching, was compared with that of a control group (n = 127) from other campuses where trauma was taught by a series of discipline-based lectures. Three trauma OSCE stations were designed to test psychomotor skills while five addressed aspects of the cognitive domain. Checklists were used to ensure standardization of scoring in a range of questions asked or skills tested at each station. RESULTS: The marks of the RPAH students (mean 78% ± SD 9%) were significantly higher (P < 0.0005) than the controls (mean 70% ± SD 9%) in the 8 trauma questions. There was no significant difference (P = 0.8) in marks obtained by the study group (mean 61% ± SD 8%) and controls (mean 63% ± SD 7%) in 22 questions sampling a wide spectrum of nontrauma subject areas. The study group performed significantly better in one of the three skills stations and three of the five problem-solving stations when compared with the control group. CONCLUSION: The innovation has the potential to fulfill a need for an integrated trauma program in the undergraduate core curriculum.