UAB wants the physicians it trains to approach medicine as a team sport, so the incoming first-year medical students will spend a day in team-building and leadership exercises developed by the UAB Counselor Education Program. The 181 incoming students of the Class of 2012 will take part in the exercises at the UAB Mini Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 29 and 30.

“The practice of medicine is very much a team concept,” said Stephen Smith, Ph.D., director of medical student life for the School of Medicine. “Every day, physicians interact with a variety of teammates — other doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists — truly a whole host of health-care professionals. Even patients are seen as an important part of their own health-care team.”

Smith says the curriculum at the medical school is designed for students to work and learn in small groups. Organizers hope participating in these activities will help the new students adapt and prepare for that learning environment.

The course developers say it is an ideal introduction to the team approach, helping students learn to capitalize on the strengths of each member of a group, while learning to help each other overcome weaknesses.

“Teamwork is the primary goal,” said Lawrence Tyson, Ph.D., associate professor of Counselor Education. “The quiet follower needs to learn leadership skills while the aggressive leader must understand that all members of a group bring valuable skills to a project. The teamwork of this core group should let them learn from the skill sets of each other.”

The medical students will work in small groups to accomplish a variety of tasks and challenges presented by graduate students in Challenge Course Education. The activities are designed so that a group must rely on all members in order to be successful. The team-building course is part of new student orientation, which begins July 28.