In 2017, a new kind of community was born at the Wayne State University School of Medicine – the learning community for Warrior M.D. medical students, which grouped the school’s nearly 300 matriculants into eight smaller, color-coded communities to engage the student body through mentorship, wellness, unity and pride, scholarship and service.
Five years later, the School of Medicine’s faculty and students have investigated, researched and analyzed what having a learning community really means, and how the learning communities can bolster the medical school experience of the student body.
Dhruvil Patel, a Class of 2023 M.D. candidate, quickly saw the benefit of the program when he joined the WSU School of Medicine three years ago.
“Being a coordinator in the learning communities program has allowed me to see what phenomenal altruist personalities we have here at Wayne State, and how everyone is ready to join in and help each other,” he said. “From getting help from seniors from day one of medical school to becoming a senior myself, it has been a privilege to be the beneficiary of a personalized program that has helped me become comfortable being a Warrior. Coordinating something helpful to others is embedded in the community culture. Seeing my junior peers rise to better our student body through the avenues these communities have provided makes it easy to see why we have one of the best student bodies in the nation.”
The WSU School of Medicine is a member of the National Learning Communities Institute, a group that values and supports the active presence of learning communities based in health professions schools. Learn more at https://learningcommunitiesinstitute.org/.
Patel was one of seven medical students who attended and presented at the Learning Communities Institute’s 19th annual meeting, held virtually Oct. 21-22, and hosted by Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Designed for faculty, students and administrative staff, the conference featured lectures, workshops, oral presentations and a poster session.
Five abstracts by WSU medical students were submitted and accepted in the research and scholarship category:
- “Assessing Peer Mentor Skill Development in Participating in a Novel Medical Student Mentoring Initiative,” Chelsea Yu and Dhruvil Patel
- “Learning Community Impact Based on Year,” Megan Seyerle and Kathleen Young
- “How Learning Communities Can Improve Medical Student Confidence in Approaching Residency Interviews,” Nicole White and Elise Turke
- “Learning Community Student-Resident Physician Mentorship,” Kyla Kosidowski and Sahar Elmenini
- “Learning Community Impact on Wayne State University School of Medicine Students,” Madison Graifman and Jack Considine
“Being a part of a Wayne State University School of Medicine Learning Community means being part of a family. We can count on each other, reach out for support with any questions or concerns, and engage in activities together,” Elmenini said. “The Learning Communities Institute conference was a great opportunity to share our research on learning communities with individuals who are interested in the same topics and taking part in related research. We were able to compare our LCs with that of other medical schools and observe how different LCs affect the student body in a variety of ways. With this information, we can further implement successful changes to elevate our students’ experiences.”
The School of Medicine renamed the communities Warrior M.D. Houses earlier this year, but the mission remains: support and encourage networking, coaching, professional identity formation and empowerment. All four classes come together through social engagement activities and subject-based curriculum Mentor Meet-Ups centered on discussions regarding Detroit’s top health disparities and issues that physicians face.
Meeting organizers requested medical student presenters and abstracts related to how learning communities impact sense of belonging, social connection and inclusion; diversity and equity advancements within learning communities; and interprofessional learning communities.
“The Learning Communities Institute Conference this year was a fantastic way to learn about the positive effects that learning communities within medical school, both academic and social communities, can have on a medical student’s academic achievements and also on a student’s development of professional skills,” Yu added. “It’s great that research is being done about learning communities here at the WSU School of Medicine, because we can use our findings to continue to improve and better support each class of students, year over year.”
WSU School of Medicine Learning Community Program Administrator LaToya Sherman is completing a two-year appointment as a co-chair of the Learning Communities Institute’s Administrators Committee. The committee encourages the development of relationships across institutions to share evidence-based best administrative practices. She co-facilitated a staff well-being workshop at the meeting.
“We introduced a wellness wheel activity to promote balance and held a group discussion. The workshop takeaway was how our roles at work contribute to our overall well-being. Elements that influence wellness can depend on the individual but overall consists of having compatible team, recognition, growth opportunities, fair compensation and flexibility,” Sherman said.
For more information on Wayne State University School of Medicine learning communities, visit https://studentaffairs.med.wayne.edu/learning-communities