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Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) has a short but rich history of producing medical doctors and other health professionals to provide health care and health-related services to America’s poor and under-served. MSM faculty and administration attribute our success to informal mentoring through close person relationships among students and faculty, facilitated by small class size. Under the leadership our new president, MSM is in the midst of increasing the class size to meet the state of Georgia’s need to increase the number of diverse health care providers. To meet the planned growth of all academic programs without compromising previous success, it was determined that our current approaches to mentoring should also be expanded, restructured, and reemphasized. MSM chose to meet this need, through the development of learning communities which also served as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission of Colleges (SACSCOC) required Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).
Our QEP, “Mentoring Students at Morehouse School of Medicine”, was implemented in the fall of 2011. MSM’s QEP, a carefully designed and focused program which includes program specific topics identified by faculty from the academic disciplines of medicine, public health and the biomedical sciences. Learning communities are required sessions that are fully integrated in the MSM curriculum and are included on student master course schedules. They are student led and faculty facilitated small group sessions which include discussion guides that list rational, goals objectives, clinical relevance and suggested student activities. The overall goal of “Mentoring Students at Morehouse” is to sustain students’ excellence and academic success through the development and implementation of learning communities, an informal mentoring & competency development program.
1. Enhance student development as professionals through the establishment of learning communities.
2. Enhance students’ academic success by expanding and enriching peer/near-peer & faculty / student mentoring .
3. Assure the success of mentoring programs through ongoing faculty training.
Results of a Successful Program
A. Improved learning outcomes for our students including skills, grades, scores, and time to degree, when compared to baseline data.
B. Development of long term supportive relationships through mentoring sessions with earning community mentors and/or learning community sessions.
C. Development and/or enhancement of faculty members’ skill and capacities as mentors through mentoring training sessions.
In the MD Program, students are divided into 8 learning communities (Knowledge, Wisdom, Service, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Leadership, & Compassion) based on MSM values and culture. These groups are mainly student led with facilitation by two learning community mentors (one clinical faculty member, one basic sciences faculty member). Learning communities are longitudinal and students continue in these groups for all 4 years of medical school. Learning Community sessions focus on residency competencies such as communication, professionalism and conflict management as well as self-reflection, cultural sensitivity, and career planning, among other topics. In the Graduate Education in Biomedical Sciences (GEBS) program, students are divided into learning communities by degree program where they focus on skills for successful graduate school transitions, selecting a lab, selecting and advisor, and career skills. MPH Students are divided into communities by life stages and focus on public health competency skills.
Faculty members are given 5-6 trainings a year on understanding the MSM Model for learning communities and facilitating small group discussions.
Morehouse School of Medicine’s Learning Communities have the following characteristics:
- Student led
- Faculty Facilitated
- Supportive Team Environment
- Discussion guide driven
Senior Associate Dean of Educational Affairs: Dr. Martha Elks
Learning Community Director and Learning Community Mentor: Dr. Meryl McNeal
Learning Community Program Manager: Mrs. Ashley Kennedy Mitchell
Learning Community Mentors (MD Program):
Dr. Carey Bayer Dr. Indrajit Chowdhury Dr. Shawn Garrison Dr. Sarah Greene Dr. Eugene Herrington
Dr. Lilly Immergluck Dr. Khadeja Johnson Dr. Melba Johnson Dr. Camara Jones Dr. Brandi Knight
Dr. Deborah Lyn Dr. James McCoy Dr. Barbara McMillan-Persaud Dr. Amy Lovejoy Mork Dr. Robert Patrickson
Dr. Kimberly Redding Dr. Ruby Thomas Dr. Bakari Vickerson
- Learning Communities participated in the Annual MSM Community Day increasing student and community participation with team building competitions and community service projects.
- Learning Communities host several MD student events including:
- The Learning Community Career Panel where alums and specialists fromaround Atlanta answer student questions about career and work/life balance
- The Learning Community Cross Cultural Event: A cultural experience to allow students to reflect on other cultures
- The Learning Community Life After Match Event: Seminars on financial competency after medical school
- The Faculty at MSM have not only accepted learning communities but they have embraced it, requesting both a Men of MSM Learning Community and A Women in Science and Medicine Learning Community in which to mentor other faculty and staff.
- Learning Communities are leading to increased cultural sensitivity and celebration of differences around campus.
- Students are using learning communities beyond the sessions to engage in study groups and community service activities.
- Learning Communities help students in all programs in their transitions through the stages of graduate school.
- Learning Communities can be structured yet flexible using discussion guides to guide the sessions but still allowing the sessions to be molded by conversation.
- Students have reported improved peer to peer and faculty to student relationships.