In 2013, the College of Medicine launched learning communities for incoming medical students. This is a joint collaboration between the Office of Student Affairs and Office of Medical Education.
Learning communities are groups sharing common values, learning together and from each other. While the societies will help develop a stronger network and camaraderie between students and faculty with various social events throughout the year, the primary goals for creating them were:
- To provide a more structured model for the clinical skills and advising program;
- To provide an infrastructure of a supportive academic environment;
- To provide students with a structured and contiguous relationship to support professional role formation and guidance toward resources in times of trouble; and
- To create a wellness program for students.
Collectively known as the George T. Harrell’s Societies, the four are named to honor Dr. Judith Bond, Dr. John Waldhausen, Dr. Al Vastyan, and Dr. Rodrigue Mortel.
Each society has a faculty society head, approximately seven to eight society advisors (each clinical faculty member is assigned to five first-year, five second-year, five third-year, and five fourth-year students). Faculty advisors help students with clinical skills instruction, advising/coaching, mentoring, and career planning.
The four society heads are Dr. Tim Palmer (Bond), Dr. Laurie Nelson (Waldhausen), Dr. Lisa Sherwood (Vastyan), and Dr. Lilia Reyes (Mortel).