University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine

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Originally founded in 2009, our LC program started as a purely voluntary, student-driven initiative, with the primary goal to build community among students and promote discussion about professional identity formation.  In 2015, the program underwent a massive re-organization, with the hiring of a physician director, 10 additional LC mentors, and the implementation of a four-year curriculum integrated into the academic program.

Program Goals

The mission of the Learning Communities Program is to foster longitudinal relationships in a safe and inclusive environment to promote personal wellness and professional development. Our goal is to create healthy people who will be effective physician leaders.

2 Goals:

•       Improve the learning environment at UAB School of Medicine

•       Prepare students for the professional aspects of practicing medicine



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·       Caroline Harada, MD- Assistant Dean for Community-Engaged Scholarship,

·       Jason Noah, MEd- Director of Student Success Programs,​​​​​​


·       Monthly classroom sessions on ethics, wellness, professional identity

·       Individual and small group meetings with faculty mentor

·       Peer mentoring

·       Competition between LCs- Olympics, LC Cup

·       2-3 socials per semester



1.     Hitchcock LI, Shorten A, Bosworth P, Galin S, Edmonds T, Harada, C. Using a standardized patient model for interprofessional team training in social work. Advances in Social Work. 2020 Summer;20(2):355-370.

2.     Dey S, Lindley G, Ma E, Harada C, Nakano-Okuno M. The nonmedical use of prescription stimulants among medical students: a novel ethics-based curriculum.  Int J Med Educ. 2019 Oct 25;10:193-194. PMID: 31655794

3.     Baños JH, Noah JP, Harada CN.  Predictors of student engagement in learning communities.  J Med Educ Curric Dev. 2019 Apr 17;6:2382120519840330.  PMID: 31025001

4.     Altonji SJ, Baños JH, Harada CN. Perceived benefits of a peer mentoring program for first-year medical students.  Teach Learn Med. 2019 Aug-Sep;31(4):445-452. PMID: 30776921


Program Highlights

·       Housestaff Mentor Program: Our LC program offers housestaff from the medical center the opportunity to serve as mentors for each LC.  Housestaff apply in May and are assigned to an LC for one year (July to June), teaching small group sessions and mentoring students under the guidance of the faculty LC mentor.  Housestaff find it rewarding and students love getting to have near-peer mentoring. 

·       Student’s Choice Day: Every fall, LCs invite faculty from across the school to plan a wellness activity for students on a day we call “Students’ Choice.”  On that day, students get to select to participate in wellness activities ranging from a yoga class to a civil rights walking tour to a workshop on healthy meal planning to ice cream in the park.  In addition to having some time to do something that builds resilience in the middle of a tough semester, students get to know other students and spend time with a faculty member.