University of Washington SOM

Program Goals: 

  • To collaborate in creating and delivering an integrated curriculum of clinical skills and professionalism.
  • To teach in the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course in the Foundations Phase of the curriculum.
  • To provide a consistent faculty mentor to each student throughout their medical school career.


The UWSOM Colleges program was established in 2001 with the goal of enhancing clinical skills training and establishing a robust mentoring program. At that time, students spent their first year of medical school at one of the regional sites in WWAMI (WA-Seattle, WA-Spokane, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), then spent their second year of pre-clinical curriculum in Seattle before dispersing throughout the WWAMI region for clinical training. The Colleges learning community experience then started during second year, with all College faculty in Seattle. Students and their assigned faculty mentor engaged in an immersive Introduction to Clinical Medicine program with clinical skills teaching both at the bedside in area hospitals and in clinical skills workshops in the classroom throughout the second year coupled with a strong mentoring program. As students launched to clerkships, the longitudinal mentorship continued. 

In 2014, a curriculum renewal resulted in a new structure in which students stay at their WWAMI regional campus site for the first 18 months (Foundations phase of the Curriculum), before a several month pause to study for Step 1 and an earlier launch into the Patient Care phase.   With this change, the Colleges program moved to a more regionalized campus model, with 8 Colleges, 50+ College faculty and numerous staff supporting over 270 students in each entering class across 5 states. This model allows the Colleges small groups and mentor relationships to start at Orientation/Immersion, for teaching of clinical skills in stable groups across the first 18 months, and for the program to provide more tailored experiences to students from different regional campuses, especially through providing a faculty physician mentor from their own regional campus site / state. 


Each UW School of Medicine regional campus has its own College or Colleges, depending on the number of students at the site: Washington (Palouse and Selkirk Colleges in Spokane, Olympic and Cascade Colleges in Seattle), Wyoming (Wind River Colleges), Alaska (Denali College), Montana (Big Sky College) and Idaho (Snake River College). Each College has a College Head (8 total) who leads the faculty cohort, mentorship programming, and community building activities. The College Heads collaborate with course leads for the Foundations of Clinical Medicine block course (in the curriculum), but do not run the curricular experience.

Students are assigned upon matriculation to one faculty mentor within a College.  Each College mentor is assigned a small group of students (~5-6) in each entering class, teaches this cohort within the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course, provides feedback (but not evaluation) to their students, and serves as a mentor to their assigned students throughout their medical school career.


  • Foundational clinical skills and professionalism / professional identity: College faculty teach their small groups of students in the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course both in hospital tutorials (with volunteer patients in the hospital) and in clinical skills workshops (in the classroom). Course includes interviewing, diagnostic and physical exam skills, clinical reasoning and interpretation skills, communication skills (with patients and colleagues, both written and oral), professionalism and ethics.
  • Mentoring:  College faculty are a primary source of mentoring for students. Faculty meet with their students individually for quarterly meetings and regularly check in by phone, text, email. College faculty partner with Student Affairs, Curricular, and Departmental teams to monitor student progress and to support students towards personal, academic, and career goals and flourishing.
  • Community building and celebrations: College faculty and staff participate and collaborate on a variety of events and experiences to support welcoming, sense of community and connection, and holistic individual and community well-being including Immersion, Orientation, dinners, milestone celebrations (e.g. White Coat Celebration, Graduation), and more. 


Molly Jackson, MD—Assistant Dean for the Colleges  [email protected] 

Julie Calcavecchia, M.Ed—Director of Operations for FCM and the Colleges [email protected] 

Program Highlights:  

  • Each student has a dedicated physician faculty mentor (from Orientation to Graduation) who knows them as individual and is invested in their success as a person.
  • Foundations of Clinical Medicine (clinical skills) curricular component allows College faculty to have detailed knowledge of each student’s skills and challenge areas, and to provide coaching and advocacy towards their success in medical school.
  • Faculty are paid for their teaching and mentoring efforts (typically 10-25% FTE, depending on their responsibilities in the program)
  • Small, stable cohorts of students allow for meaningful, long-term connections, including across years (e.g. vertical advising in “College families”)
  • Students, faculty and staff in the Colleges collaborate to host community building events (mentor dinners, peer advising, talent shows, service opportunities)
  • Large regional medical school with 8 Colleges across 6 regional sites and 5 states allows rich opportunities for faculty development, collaboration, and support as well 
  • College Heads have both a ‘front row seat’ to the student experience and a ‘birds-eye view’ of the school, making us a valuable asset as leaders in the school with an intimate understanding of the student experience across the trajectory of medical school.

Student Leadership: 

  • This is ‘under construction’ for UW SOM, and has been challenged by the large regional nature of our school with campuses that operate somewhat independently (though covering the same curricular and mentorship objectives)
  • In Seattle, each mentor group identities a student representative for the Student Leadership Committee to meet quarterly with Seattle College Heads to provide feedback about the program activities for quality improvement and to organize community building events. 


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