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Colleges Program thanks you for responses and shares what they learned

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WWAMI UWSOM Colleges Program – THANK YOU and SHARING BACK what we heard from student focus groups  

The Colleges Program is engaged in strategic planning for quality improvement and to guide future directions of the Colleges program. From May to August 2023, the Colleges hosted 10 student Focus Groups (4 with students in Foundations phase, 6 with students in Pt Care / Exp and Focus phase), with support from our colleague Jung Lee in the Educational Quality Improvement (EQI) team. Students from all WWAMI sites participated. In addition, students across WWAMI shared feedback in an optional survey (in the WWAMI student newsletter). 

THANK YOU to all students who joined in and shared their perspectives.  The below is a summary of themes that we heard from students. We are using what we heard from students, faculty, staff and leadership across the region to create next steps for our program. If you have additional feedback, thoughts or questions, we welcome you to connect with us! You can use the above anonymous survey or reach out directly to Molly B. Jackson (, Julie Calcavecchia (, or your local College Head.  Thank you!

What is the most valuable aspect of the Colleges for you? What else is working well?  Students valued… 

  • Early clinical skills development and experience with patients in FCM (esp. real patients, hospital tutorials) – students feel prepared to start clerkships! 
  • Feedback from faculty and peer observers – live direct individualized feedback from faculty is invaluable. 
  • Small and safe environment to learn clinical skills, build relationships, and receive support from College faculty and stable group of student peers. 
  • Connection with faculty as coaches, mentors and role models – especially helpful when faculty share about their own journey, show an openness to emotions, and demonstrate care and understanding about what’s happening for individual students and within the MD program. 
  • Longitudinal relationships, sense of community, professional development coaching / support. Whenever possible, minimizing College faculty mentor turnover / transition for individual students was valuable. 

What could use more attention, should be changed, or was missing?  Students desired…. 

  • More dedicated time to build meaningful relationships with classmates and in peer/vertical mentoring across years, including outside the classroom.
    • Action: Build a vertical advising program; prioritize time and activities for relationship-building at all campuses.  

  • Enhanced consistency across College faculty in teaching clinical skills, small group facilitation, and coaching/mentorship support of medical students (including working with students from diverse backgrounds, working with current generation of medical students, setting clear expectations of students in clinical skills and other spaces, excellence in giving and receiving feedback, facilitation of supported/safe dialogue around challenging topics).
    • Action: Create a faculty development program to address gaps and assure all students similarly supported.  

  • Clarity for College faculty roles / responsibilities, especially for students in difficulty.
    • Action: Clarify College faculty roles/responsibilities across all sites and across phases of med student education. 

  • More opportunities to interface with various College faculty, including across different specialties, backgrounds and identities.
    • Action: Consider structural ways to ‘mix it up’, allowing students to work with a variety of College faculty, in addition to their assigned College faculty.
    • Action: Partner with school/community to advance ways students can find additional mentors.
    • Action: Recruit and retain College faculty from diverse identities and backgrounds.
  • Keeping “what does it mean to be a physician” in forefront of curriculum; provide more interactions/simulated examples, including spaces to develop professional identity and professional skills.
    • Action: Continual improvement of the FCM and other curriculum to make space for the right blend of educational activities; advance personal and professional skills and identity formation.  

  • Earlier career guidance and exploration (during Foundations) support.
    • Action: Share student needs in this space with Career Advising team; clarify College faculty role in early career advising; provide faculty development in early career guidance.

  • More consistent awareness of and tailored support for the variety of student experiences at our school (students who take leave and/or expand for variety of reasons, in dual-degree programs, experiencing difficulty, interested in forging a unique path through medical school, etc.).

Molly Blackley Jackson, MD

Assistant Dean for the Colleges

University of Washington School of Medicine

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