September 20, 2017

UAB hosts national Learning Communities Institute conference

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LCI meetingThe UAB School of Medicine hosted more than 160 medical students, faculty, and administrators from 40 medical schools across the United States and Mexico at the Learning Communities Institute’s (LCI) 14th annual conference Sept. 15-17.  The LCI seeks to improve health care education by fostering scholarship, professional development, and the centrality of relationships among learners and teachers as a means to promote compassionate care and health practitioner well-being.

Throughout the weekend, the conference provided workshops, small group discussions, and presentations on a wide variety of topics, including innovative curricula, teaching and mentoring techniques, and student and physician well-being to create, sustain and enhance learning communities in medical and health-related professional schools.  Dr. Richard M. Frankel, professor of Medicine and Geriatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, was the keynote speaker, giving a talk entitled, “What can 6,000 third year essays teach us about individual and community reflection?”

“Learning communities make a big school feel small, and they create family among students who otherwise would compete against each other,” said Caroline Harada, M.D., assistant dean for community-engaged scholarship. “As a learning community mentor, I get to know students on a personal level.  Watching them grow over four years in medical school is an absolute privilege; I wouldn’t have that opportunity in most other teaching settings.”

Organizational efforts for the conference were led at UAB by Harada and Jason Noah, program director for Student Success in Medical Student Services.  UAB medical students, led by MS2 and MS3 class vice presidents Sam Altonji and Priyanka Patel, played a large role in the conference by hosting social events to meet visiting med students, hosting students in their homes, and working at the meeting itself.

Harada said feedback from the event attendees was overwhelmingly positive, and thanked the school’s administration, the offices of Medical Student Services, and Undergraduate Medical Education, and the SOM Learning Communities faculty for their support in hosting a successful meeting.

“Our leadership is very supportive and enthusiastic when it comes to our 11 LCs. We were very proud this weekend when learning community leaders from important institutions across the country came to Birmingham and were so impressed by UAB, not only by the physical facilities, but by the caliber of the faculty, staff and students we have here,” Harada said.
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