Message from the LCI Chair

Dear LCI Members,

These are unprecedented times in our communities, and now more than ever do we need the bond of our common humanity to weather this storm of Covid-19.  Our core work- learning and growing together, and supporting each other in the context of authentic longitudinal relationships, will give us strength to get through this pandemic.

I want to thank all of you for what you do in caring for your framilies (yes, friends and families), patients, your self-care, and educating our new generation of trainees, in addition to your ongoing support of the Learning Communities Institute. The LCI has been engaged for over 16 years to promote, enhance and evaluate the use of learning communities in medical education, and to reinforce professionalism, humanism, and wellbeing.

This past year’s annual meeting at the University of Kansas School of Medicine included members from over 40 institutions across North America and we were honored to have the keynote speaker David M. Irby, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Senior Scholar in the Center for Faculty Educators at the University of California San Francisco talk about Improving Learning Environments in Medical Education: What do Learning Communities have to do with it? In his address he outlined the core elements of learning spaces: safety, engagement, connectedness, infrastructure, access and climate. With this, he outlined the important role learning communities have in shaping a positive learning environment for our trainees and how we as faculty and administrators play an integral part in this. It was a true community gathering of like-minded individuals sharing ideas, experiences, skills and knowledge – and having so much fun in the process! There were also outstanding workshops, oral presentations, hot topics sessions, posters, and an update the scholarly work from our Research Network presented by Dave Hatem. Details from this conference and past conferences can be found on our website- Thanks to all of you who participated, presented, and provided leadership and support!

This coming year we look forward to continuing our work in relationship-centered education, mentorship and leadership- building relationships and collaborations across our institutions. We have 35 LCI members involved with the Research Network, studying the impact of LCs on student and faculty wellbeing, and the professional identity formation of students.  We are continuing to expand our network with new participants and always looking for new ideas for projects.  We are enhancing our LCI website adding functionality for our members to access selected presentations from past annual meetings, with additional members-only content. We continue to offer remote consultations given the restrictions on travel at this time for schools interested in establishing or enhancing their learning communities, and we can provide valuable content related to the main pillars of learning communities: teaching, mentoring/advising and student community. We are happy to offer these through zoom conferencing or other remote methods.

Given the sheltering in place due to Covid-19, we will be holding a Virtual Annual Meeting this year on October 24Supporting Learning Communities in a Virtual Setting, hosted by James Wagner and Heather Smith from the University of Texas, Southwestern. Our theme will build on last year’s conference on improving the learning environment by including our virtual settings of teaching and mentoring. Dr.  Sandrijn VanSchaik, who was one of the lead authors from the Josiah Macy Foundation recommendations on Improving Learning Environments for Learning in the Health Professions, will be our keynote speaker.  We are excited about leading a virtual conference with workshops, oral presentations and posters for you and other members to present your scholarly work on learning community related projects. We invite you to share your work and join us on this date- see our website for our call for proposals, registration and please contact us if you have any questions or ideas for making this a great event.

Thank you again for your engagement in and financial support of the Learning Communities Institute.  We value your participation in this fantastic community of like-minded faculty, administrators, and students who are dedicated to the values of learning communities in medical education.  Annual membership renewals are due on July 15th and please let us know if you foresee a problem in renewing this year or if you have any questions. I hope to see you at our virtual conference this Fall!

Lars O Signature

Lars Osterberg, MD, MPH
Chair, Learning Communities Institute