The Colleges

The Colleges: Clinical Skills, Mentoring, Professionalism

The Colleges are an academic and administrative structure with three primary goals.

  • Oversee a four-year integrated curriculum of clinical skills and professionalism;
  • Teach the Introduction to Clinical Medicine II (ICM II) course in the second year; and
  • Provide a consistent faculty mentor/advisor to each student over his/her medical school career.


The College structure consists of six Colleges, each with six to seven faculty, one of whom serves as the Head of the College. Upon matriculation students are randomly assigned to one of the six Colleges, and specifically to one faculty member within that College. Each faculty member has about six students in each year for a total of 24-30 students (including MD/PhD or expanded students). Each College has a total of 36-42 students per year, or a total of about 144-160 students. College assignment is not based on the student’s state of residence or on their future career plans.

Each student will use a web-based “learning portfolio” to document her or his work in the skills development curriculum. This enables the student and faculty mentor to monitor progress in specific areas against defined benchmarks. The portfolio might include, for example, students’ samples of their write-ups, reflections on various elements of the curriculum, and self-assessments of progress.

Clinical Skills Curriculum

There are five areas of clinical skills with developmental benchmarks identified for each year:

  • Interview skills, including taking a patient history;
  • Diagnostic and physical exam skills;
  • Clinical reasoning and interpretation skills;
  • Communication skills (with patient and colleagues) including both written and oral case presentation skills.
  • Professionalism and ethics.

In the first year, the College faculty meets with each student approximately 1-2 times per quarter or semester, either in person, via video conference, by phone, or email. Over the course of the year, students may send to their College mentor some of their work to be reviewed.

In the second year, the College mentor teaches the ICM II curriculum to his or her group of 6 students with the focus on weekly bedside teaching. Each College meets for clinical skills training one morning of the week with two teams of 1 faculty member and 6 students rotating through one of six teaching hospitals each quarter. The morning sessions are required, so students should not schedule elective coursework or personal appointments on the mornings their College meets.

In third and fourth years, the College mentor follows his/her students’ progress in the required clerkships and clinical electives. The College mentor communicates with his/her students routinely to discuss the student’s progress in achieving his/her educational goals. The students also maintain contact via email, phone, or in person throughout the third and fourth years to discuss their clinical rotations and progress in choosing a specialty.

Advising and Mentoring

Through the College system, each student’s College mentor acts as his/her advisor and advocate. In the first and second year, the focus is academic counseling. The focus shifts towards career counseling in the third and fourth years. The College faculty will refer students to the Student Affairs Office for assignment to the appropriate departmental career counselors, who focus on the residency application and selection process, and will also provide an additional network of faculty for advising. In addition, the College mentors work with the students to monitor their progress in completing their research requirement for graduation (Independent Investigative Inquiry).

Additional College Activities

Each College Head acts as a liaison with one of the 5 states in the regional WWAMI program. They work with the first year site directors and with the clinical clerkship faculty and clinical center deans in each state. The College faculty assists in the development and administration of the two major clinical skills exams (OSCEs) for the medical students. They also participate in the second-year Capstone I, Transition to the Clerkships, and the fourth-year Capstone II, Transition to Residency, required courses.

Finally, College faculty participate in faculty development activities in the medical school as a whole. This may include assistance with development of curricular materials for preclinical basic science courses and/or clinical clerkships. Each clerkship will take responsibility for tracking the next level of physical examination skills in one area and a mini-CEX (clinical examination) will be required for that skill during the clerkship. In addition, the clerkships will include one or two areas of professional development within the clerkship.