Nancy Silverman



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Long considered to be a fiercely competitive environment, many schools of medicine can be characterized as learning communities. A learning community involves a group of people who come together under established guidelines for the shared purpose of learning and a commitment to reflective practice that can ultimately bring personal transformation. Collaboration is the hallmark of learning in community and becomes the vehicle whereby knowledge is socially constructed through negotiation in community with peers. The collaborative approach to learning that historically has characterized medical student instruction at the bedside has been introduced into the classroom and laboratory, often under the moniker of team-based learning. Students are accountable not only for their own learning successes but also for the successes of their team of peers. In addition to engaging in this highly collaborative environment, students become immersed into the medical school community through cultural integration (mentoring by upperclass peers), ritualistic performances (white coat ceremony), behavioral expectations (professionalism and accountability), and shared goals (attaining a desired residency). Medical students can benefit from the successful outcomes of learning communities as they create a sense of belonging; academic, social, and personal satisfaction; generate deeper levels of learning; incite initiative, creativity, and critical thinking; and nurture sensitivity to diverse perspectives (Cox, 2004). Reference Cox, M. D. (2004). Building faculty learning communities. In M. D. Cox & L. Richlin (Eds.), New directions for teaching and learning (Vol. 97, pp. 5-23). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Michele Welkener

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Educational Leadership


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Medical School through a Learning Community Lens