Learning Communities Help UK Medical Students Build Stronger Connections, Grow Professionally

The University of Kentucky College of Medicine has implemented a system to enhance the medical student experience and ensure optimum professional development, career advising, social connectedness, and wellness during medical school.

Learning communities gather students into smaller groups (‘houses’) and pair them with designated faculty to whom they develop a longitudinal relationship across their journey through medical school. They have been implemented at several academic institutions across the country. The UK College of Medicine has established learning communities on its campuses in Lexington, Bowling Green, and Northern Kentucky.

The goals of this house system are to foster a sense of community among students and faculty, develop students personally and professionally, and provide key student resources like academic advising, career exploration, and planning. Within these houses, student leaders organize community building and social activities, plan community service projects, and work with their faculty leadership to conduct monthly meetings where the students can have informal facetime with faculty to talk about things that are important to them, as well as meeting with the faculty each semester to review career goals and help with next steps.

TJ Lile“The College of Medicine’s learning community system keeps medical students connected with one another and with faculty members to help them grow into better, more well-rounded and connected physicians after graduation,” said Anthony Lile, MD, assistant dean for student affairs who leads the development of learning communities. “We want to reach out to students from day one of medical school to start looking forward to their future.”

Dr. Lile said learning communities benefit students at all stages of medical school.

“For those who know where their career is headed, we can help them start developing themselves by connecting them with faculty mentors in their specialty of interest to start mapping out the road to residency,” Dr. Lile continued. “For those who are undecided, we can work with them to explore the various specialties medicine has to offer and find the ones that they connect with. We don’t want students to have to wait until their clinical years to find their place in medicine.”

Many students have enjoyed learning communities as an opportunity to develop strong connections for better career preparation and improved well-being.

“The house system was and is still able to provide support and guidance to all medical students by nurturing friendships, giving medical school advice, and guiding our future in medicine,” Farah Guirguis Mekhail, a member of the Class of 2022, said. “It’s a system comprised of people that care.”

Click here to learn more about the UK College of Medicine’s learning communities, meet the team of faculty house leadership, and read testimonials from faculty and students.