UVAlogoThe fall of 2010 marked a major turning point for medical education at the University of Virginia. An institution known for its Jeffersonian tradition welcomed an expanded class into a new education building and moved from a discipline-based pre-clerkship curriculum to a systems-based curriculum with a focus on team-based learning.

Larger class size, variable schedules and rotation sites for students and demands on faculty created a challenge for continuity of student-faculty relationships as well as a barrier to effective oversight of professional development, academic progress and career advising. Lack of a system to guide the medical school experience inhibited efforts to improve the process.

The University of Virginia School of Medicine Class of 2014 was the first class to be part of a new College System. Four colleges were formed, each headed by a Dean for Student Affairs and named after a prominent physician associated with the School of Medicine:

Robley Dunglison College: As the first professor of anatomy and medicine at the UVA, Dr. Dunglison was also Thomas Jefferson’s personal physician. He is known as the “Father of American Physiology,” largely because of his textbook Human Physiology (1832).

Thomas Hunter College: A pioneer in bioethics, Dr. Hunter was Dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine 1953 -1965 and subsequently served as Vice President for Medical Affairs. He returned to the faculty and headed a nationally recognized program in bioethics.

Vivian Pinn College: Dr. Pinn was both the only African American and the only woman in the UVA School of Medicine class of 1967. A pathologist and the recently retired director of the NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, Dr. Pinn is also known as a firm advocate for women and underrepresented minorities in medicine.

Walter Reed College: In 1869, at age 18, Walter Reed became the youngest graduate of the School of Medicine. Reed joined the Army Medical Corps in 1875 and is most well known for leading the team that made the discovery that a mosquito was responsible for the transmission of yellow fever.

Program Goals:

Our aim was to unify our educational and student support efforts utilizing the framework of learning communities. Using intentionally created groups that acknowledge the social context for learning, this program is enabling us to provide consistent, longitudinal oversight of clinical performance and professional development. These learning communities also foster continuous relationships with faculty and peers and encourage vertical integration of students for mentoring.


Student support services have been restructured into four colleges. Each is headed by a Dean for Student Affairs who works with individual students and the college as a whole to provide career counseling, address personal well-being, oversee academic progress, identify professionalism concerns, and advocate for students in all aspects of their medical education. The Deans organize and oversee major events and transitions. They place the white coats on their students during the first week of medical school and hood the students in their college at graduation.

In our “Next Generation” curriculum, we have committed to a four-year course of Clinical Performance Development (CPD). In the first 18 months six-member student groups meet weekly with two mentors, one physician and one non-physician, in order to learn fundamental clinical skills, interview and examine patients, and work through cases together. We have laid the foundation for our hybrid learning communities by forming each college from 6 or 7 of these small groups. In this way, the small group mentors become college affiliated faculty and are encouraged to identify and communicate concerns directly to the Deans thereby providing broader support for students as well as longitudinal oversight of each student’s clinical development. The CPD mentors start with a new small group every other year.

Each college now rotates through the clerkship year on the same schedule.   This facilitates group and individual meetings with the Deans, allows delivery of a cohesive clerkship year curriculum to be learned within the CPD groups, simplifies faculty feedback to the Deans, and enhances supervision of clinical skill development by the CPD mentors. In addition, students continue their relationships with their peers as they function together in patient care settings.

In the post-clerkship period, the CPD mentors continue to monitor professional and skill development and will be integral as we address competencies and entrustable professional activities of students. The Deans and CPD mentors together work with students to address any concerns. Plans are evolving to have each CPD group carry out a quality improvement project and to have fourth year students participate in teaching their mentor’s second year small group as another opportunity for vertical college integration.


  • Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, Dean of Hunter College: John Densmore MD, PhD
  • Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Dean of Reed College: Rasheed Balogun MD
  • Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Dean of Dunglison College: Meg Keeley MD
  • Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Dean of Pinn College: Christine Peterson MD
  • Director, Clinical Performance Development: Nancy McDaniel MD
  • Director, Clinical Performance Development-1: James Moak MD
  • Director, Clinical Performance Development-2: Linda Waggoner-Fountain MD, MEd
  • Director, Clinical Performance Development-3: Meg Keeley MD
  • Program Manager, Clinical Performance Development: Eva Casola MBA
Dunglison College Mentors:
Ashley Blurton MD    Jennifer Beard PhD    Earl Bracker MD   Karen Knight MSLS    Tabor Flickinger MD                    Ruby Ford MSN RN   Sim Galazka MD    Evangeline Calland MTS    Owen Hendley MD  Ellen Longmoore D Min    Jennifer Kirby MD   Richard Fontaine MBA   Chuck Thornsvard MD    Hillary Barry MS     Roger Burket MD             Morgan Taylor MSW   Thomas Hartka MD      Kristen Heinan MD       James Moak MD       Christina Leftwich BSN Ionut Mosteanu MD      Tonya Showalter RN       Rahul Mehta MD    Ellen Longmoore D Min
Hunter College Mentors:
Joe Chance MD     Marie Perucci-Bailey RPh   Lisa Christianson MD   Richard Fontaine MBA    Mark Mendelsohn MD   Kim Mechling RN   James Moak MD    Tonya Showalter CEN    Van Nguyen MD    Jeffrey Ciucias RN    Brian Uthlaut    Anne Fishwick RN    Alan Binder MD    Judith Sanford RN     Matthew Goodman MD       Elizabeth Bradley PhD     Diane Pappas MD      Evangaline Calland MTS   Margaret Plews-Ogan MD     Annemarie Clemente LCSW Robert Reiser MD       Joseph Moffett RN    Lara Veber, MD    Elizabeth Glover SLP     Andrew Wolf MD      Yvonne Newberry FNP-BC
Pinn College Mentors:
Jamison Bourque MD     Judi Sanford RN     Megan Bray MD     Eugene Locke D Min    Lein Dame MD    Julie Pitti Med    Ira Helenius MD   Deborah Childs RN       Erik Hewlett MD       Carolyn Engelhard MPA      Mohan Nadkarni MD       Elizabeth Jaeger-Landis ACNP     Theresa Schlager MD   Elizabeth Lyons MD    Nancy McDaniel M     Moses Woode PhD    Glenn Moulder MD     Jacqueline Salaway MSW   Mary Preston MD     Joel Schectman MD Donna White, RPh      Claudia Sussdorf, MD
Reed College Mentors:
Heather Streich MD         Mary Stack FNP         Sue McCoy MD         Ian Marks PA         Chris Moore MD         Mildred Best M DIv       Kenneth Ballew MD       Barbara Maling NP       Ben Sneed MD         Ina Stephens MD       Moses Woode MD      Joshua Barclay, MD      Kevin Boyd M Div       Eve Bargmann MD        Gordon Putnam M Div     Blake Garmon MD     Miriam Halpern MD      Karen Boyle BSN    Martha Hellems MD     Sean Reed MD       Jonathan Schorling MD          Elizabeth Jaeger-Landis ACNP

Activities Showcase:

  • Big Sib/Families vertical integration of student mentoring organized by colleges
  • Iron Med Fitness program with college affiliation competition
  • Classroom review activities with college affiliation competition
  • Summer opportunities and career counseling organized by colleges
  • Events: Orientation, Field Day, Gateway Dinner, White Coat Ceremony, Family Day, Summer Opportunities, Summer Send Off, Transition Course, Student Clinician Ceremony, Reception with the Dean, Match Day, Graduation


  • Keeley M, “Longitudinal and Multifaceted Support: The Evolution of Learning Communities at the University of Virginia School of Medicine” Harvard Macy Institute Innovations Poster Session, Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 4, 2013
  • Keeley M, “Learning Communities in the Clerkship Year”, Platform Presentation, Learning Communities Institute Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 1, 2013
  • Keeley M, Peterson C, “Longitudinal and Multi-Faceted Support: The Evolution of Hybrid Learning Communities at the University of Virginia” Learning Communities Institute Annual Meeting, Platform presentation, Palo Alto, CA, November 3, 2012

Lessons Learned:

  • Students and faculty have responded very positively to the innovation. Both find continued relationships with their learning community on the clerkships rewarding and supportive. Communication among mentors and Deans has been enhanced.
  • Students in learning communities describe faculty as more accessible, feel an increased sense of community, and place increased value on relationships and activities with classmates and faculty members.
  • This hybrid learning community model provides longitudinal support across domains. Oversight of skill development, vertical integration of peer mentoring and individualized student support from white coat ceremony at orientation to hooding at graduation has enhanced and helped to guide the medical school experience.
  • The challenges have been to generate acceptance of the learning community concept and to develop expectations for four-year faculty mentoring of clinical skill development as well as to ensure appropriate support for teaching time and faculty development.

Photos and Graphics: (click on photo to enlarge):