The School of Medicine was founded, as a private not profit educational program on August 1978 with an opening class of 27 students in Monterrey, México. It’s original mission statement intended to educate highly talented medical doctors for national and international contexts. Currently, the Physician and Surgeon program has a total of 1079 graduates, with an extraordinary alumnus oriented to healthcare service around the world.
A couple of decades later, in view of its success, Tecnológico de Monterrey decided to increase its class number from 30 to 150 in order to have a greater impact on healthcare leadership nationally and internationally. Even though these changes increased the possibilities to educate an increasing number of gifted students, it also reduced the close follow-up and intimate communication that used to endure on smaller initial groups.
In November 2013, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of Tecnológico de Monterrey decided to become member of the Learning Communities Institute (LCI) as an initiative to improve follow-up and intimate communication with medical students by providing a much sought after mentorship service imbedded in academic societies. The LCI provided the School of Medicine with the fundamentals to plan, organize and implement innovative structures to develop this new Academic Societies Project.
Since 2013 our Learning Communities (Academic Societies) have evolved into being the main way of learning in our school. Interdisciplinary communities have risen to be how students and faculty are organized. Our learning communities have medical, dentistry, clinical psychology, biosciences and nutrition students as well as faculty. We believe that the future community of practice we intend to build needs to have a interdisciplinary approach. Our school has presence in 4 different cities across Mexico: Monterrey, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Chihuahua. We have Academic Societies in all four major cities having a national impact on learning.
The Learning Communities of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of Tecnológico de Monterrey are integrated by groups of students and faculty vertically and horizontally incorporated over 6 years of medical curriculum. The main objectives of are:
Support the academic and professional growth of its students.
Stimulate knowledge, personal growth and collegiality through an academic tutoring system.
Provide a congregation dwelling for students involved in the Academic Society.
Provide permanent contact between students and faculty.
Offer personal and professional guidance to the students.
Provide a safe space for integration, wellness and health.
Our main objective is to provide students with professional, disciplinary and emotional tools to thrive in their community and eventually form part of a community of practice.
There are nine Academic Societies at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of Tecnológico de Monterrey. They were named after the character and strengths classification established by Peterson and Seligman (2004). Character strength can be defined as positive trait reflected in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The official names were translated to Latin to evoke the underpinnings of medical tradition.
1. Wisdom and knowledge (Sapientia): cognitive strengths that entails the acquisition and use of knowledge.
2. Courage (Cor): emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal.
3. Humanity (Caritas): interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
4. Justice (Iustitia): interpersonal strengths, relevant to the optimal interaction between the individual and the group or the community.
5. Transcendence (Trascendentia): strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning.
6. Temperance (Temperantia): strengths that protect against excess.
7. Fidelity (Fidelitas): The virtue that gives us the ability to be loyal to our feelings, ideas and obligations that we chose and made our own, as well as to our promises.
8. Prudence (Prudentia): The virtue that grants the ability to reason with good
judgement and in a timely manner, so that our actions are responsible and that, far from damaging someone, are the best for others and for oneself.
9. Truth (Veritas): The virtue that grants the ability that our mind, our doings and our sayings are always in accordance with the reality we perceive, that we know or the one in which we believe.
Each academic society has one leader followed by group of around 15 mentors conformed by faculty members. Each Academic Society is responsible for around 180 medical and health sciences students.
The following figure describes the leadership structure to support the Academic Societies. The Dean, the Vice dean and the associate coordinator of academic societies are highly commitment to integrate this education/life experience project for students and professors alike.
Students on learning communities have a broad variety of activities that they can get involved in. We have a year-long challenge, a competition between our nine learning communities. The challenge consists of many small competitions such as sports games, escape rooms, photography contests, cooking contest, etc. This year-long challenge encourages student participation and it fosters a healthy competition. Students are also invited to enter a mentoring program, where senior students mentor for them throughout the whole program. There are a several major events per year where participants of all learning communities are invited. White coat ceremony, yearly Colloquium, end of program ceremony, among others. All of our activities have the objective or providing students with professional, disciplinary and emotional tools to thrive in their community and eventually form part of a community of practice.
One important task previous to the formal opening of this important project was the design of the graphical identity. Different animals were selected to recognize each group. Each Academic Society has a color, name and animal: horse (Transcendence), bear (wisdom & knowledge), bull (Temperance), lion (Courage), wolf (Humanity), eagle (Justice), deer (Fidelity), owl (Truth), elephant (Prudence).
Our Learning Communities logo is a figure taken from the central mural of our university. It has symbols of the Mesoamerican cosmogony and it symbolizes the help received by the gods to achieve the flowering of humanity.
We in our School of Medicine and Health Sciences, give our emblem the name of “The Sun of Movement”. We use it to symbolize that our main mission in Learning Communities is to ensure that we all walk together along the paths of virtue, making sure that no one deviates or stops and that continuous movement helps us develop ourselves as better persons and professionals, allowing us to get closer to the goal that each one of us has dreamed of, to our eudaimonia, our blossoming. Our motto and central mindset, “Nemo Resideo” means in Latin “Leave no one behind”.