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Dean's Perspective on Academic Communities at UC San Diego, School of Medicine.


Introduction and background

In 2010, the UC San Diego School of Medicine launched a new curriculum, the integrated scientific curriculum. As part of this curricular redesign, the school instituted academic communities. This perspective article outlines our experience with the first 8 years of these academic communities.

Single-institution experience

We initiated academic communities with the hope that this structure would cultivate enhanced student-student and student-faculty engagement, improve faculty-student mentoring, and create additional service-learning and student leadership opportunities. The communities would also provide an environment for small group learning throughout the 4-year curriculum. After 8 years of experience, a comparison of student survey data pre- and post establishment of academic communities demonstrated enhanced connectedness between students and faculty and higher scores for faculty mentoring and for career planning. Our own lived experience with the communities revealed several unanticipated outcomes. The community directors became a source of support and advice for one another. Some faculty and administrators whose previous roles were affected by start of the academic communities needed to adjust expectations.


The establishment of academic communities was associated with improvement in student-faculty engagement, student assessment of faculty mentoring, and career planning.

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