School of Medicine Support Services

School of Medicine Support Services
The University of Washington School of Medicine’s  Academic, Rural and Regional Affairs staff and facilities support medical students’ academic, personal, and professional development as a physician-in-training. This includes academic and curricular advising; academic skills support; personal, physical, and mental well-being counseling; career decision-making and residency selection advising; extracurricular educational opportunities; and financial aid and management of educational loan repayment. The Colleges Program also provides individual student advising and support throughout the students’ tenure in the medical school program. 

Washington Physicians Health Program
The Washington Physicians Health Program (WPHP) is a confidential program for Washington physicians and other health-care providers, founded by the Washington State Medical Association. The University of Washington School of Medicine maintains a working relationship with WPHP and similar programs in the WWAMI region to provide assessment of areas of concern, to enable appropriate management of students within the MD program, and for treatment referrals for medical students with possible substance abuse, medical, and/or psychiatric issues in consultation with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and the Vice Dean for Academic, Rural and Regional Affairs.

A student may be referred to WPHP by the Student Progress Committee, the associate dean for student affairs, or the vice dean for academic, rural and regional affairs, if the student is experiencing a single major difficulty or ongoing persistent challenges, which are impacting the student’s ability to complete the medical school graduation requirements successfully. A student may also be referred due to concerns about Fitness for Clinical Contact. If the student is not currently residing in Washington State, the student may be referred to a similar state evaluation and monitoring program if available and appropriate.

WPHP or its equivalent will determine whether additional services or support for the student are needed, and if so, will endorse the student when they are ready to return to the curriculum. If needed, WPHP/its equivalent may continue to provide ongoing monitoring of the student when they return to the curriculum for a period of time, determined by the organization.

If a student believes the referral has been made unnecessarily or inappropriately, the student may request that the referral be reviewed by the Student Progress Committee. This review would occur at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Student Progress Committee.

Academic Support
Academic support is available to all medical students. Learning specialists are available to assist with issues related to test-taking, study plans, study skills, test anxiety, preparation for USMLE exams, and referrals for additional support. A clinical skills remediation specialist is available to assist students with deficiencies in their clinical performance. Students may self-refer, or may be referred by faculty and/or staff, or receive a mandatory referral by the Student Progress Committee.  

Peer Tutoring
Peer tutoring is free of charge and is coordinated by the academic skills counselors. It is available on a drop-in basis and by appointment. It is staffed by medical students and services may be delivered in person, over the phone, or via Zoom. 

Career Advising
Career advising is available to all students throughout their training. Career advisors are available to assist with general information and advice regarding specialties, residency, career planning, and referrals to online resources, departmentally-based career advisors, and/or alumni. Additional information on selecting a specialty and preparing for residency interviews is available  online on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Careers in Medicine® website, which provides general career advising information for medical students. 

Financial Aid
The School of Medicine financial aid office serves as the primary liaison for medical students with the main University of Washington office of student financial aid and administers the School of Medicine scholarship and loan funds and the Title VII federal aid programs.

Staff are available to provide general advice on financial aid, address questions about the aid awarded, and provide assistance with understanding the impact of indebtedness, in addition to other financial aid-related queries. Additional information on budgets, timelines, and loan and debt management is also available on the School of Medicine’s financial aid website.

Staff travel to each Foundations Phase site at the beginning of the academic year, and also to several of the clinical centers during the Patient Care Phase. Students may contact the School of Medicine financial aid office directly via email, somfao@uw.edu, or by phone, (206) 685-2520.

Medical Student Counseling Services
The School of Medicine’s counseling service offers a range of services to help students and their spouse/partner cope with the demands of life in medical school. Services offered through the School’s counseling programs are free of charge and completely confidential. The counselors are licensed and experienced mental health professionals. Though some may have clinical faculty appointments, none are involved in direct evaluation or grading of students. If long-term counseling or psychiatric assessment is needed, the student may be referred to a local community provider who may be able to see students on a reduced-fee basis. Students should visit the Counseling and Wellness Services website for the most up to date information on available counselors, services available and additional resources.

Confidentiality of Counseling Services
Counseling is completely confidential. Limited counseling records are securely kept by the student’s specific counselor and are not part of the student’s academic file. The counselors may receive information about students who are being reviewed by the Student Progress Committee, but counselors never share information with the committee. Information about students who are seeking counseling is never shared with the deans, faculty, or staff. If a student would like their counselor to share information with the deans, faculty, administrative staff, or the Student Progress Committee, the student must sign a written release of information to allow the counselors to do so.

Health and Wellness Programs
Workshops and wellness activities may be offered throughout the region. Topics of past sessions include stress management, time management, yoga, massage, mindfulness meditation, successful relationships, and integrating feedback and evaluation. Visit the Health and Wellness Services website for more information.

The Colleges
The Colleges are an academic and administrative program with three primary responsibilities: 

  • To provide a consistent faculty mentor to each student over their medical school career 
  • To collaborate in creating and delivering a four-year integrated curriculum of clinical skills and professionalism 
  • To teach in Foundations of Clinical Medicine during the Foundations Phase of the curriculum 

There is one college located at each Foundations site, with two colleges located in Seattle and two colleges located in Spokane. Each college has a dedicated group of faculty mentors, one of whom serves as the head of the college. Upon matriculation, students are assigned to a faculty member within their site’s college. Each faculty member is assigned five students each year, and works with them throughout their medical school careers. 

The college system is a primary source of mentoring and support for students. Mentors meet regularly with students, provide academic advising, monitor student progress in specific areas against defined benchmarks, and assist students with career decision-making. The College mentor’s role is primarily one of personal support and advising rather than specific advising in the student’s chosen field.  

The management of in-depth support for students who are having significant academic or personal difficulty is a collaboration between the associate dean for student affairs and the student’s College mentor, along with other support services provided by the School, such as the study skills advisor and the counseling staff.