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.
Results of a Successful Program
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:
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
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: