The Colleges

​​​​​​​​The University of Washington School of Medicine has one of the most unique medical education programs in the nation. The program focuses on personalizing medical education for students and providing a deepening understanding of fundamental clinical skills and professionalism. The College system, one of a series of recent innovations in the MD curriculum, is at the core of this program.

Goals of the College System

The primary goals of the Colleges are to oversee a four-year integrated curriculum of clinical skills and professionalism, teach the Foundations of Clinical Medicine course, and provide students with consistent faculty mentoring. The curriculum emphasizes proficiency in the basic clinical skills of physical examination and diagnosis, clinical reasoning and interpretation, and use of informatics. 

Fifty-seven physicians known for their dedication to teaching and patient-centered care were selected from the medical school faculty to lead clinical education and serve as student mentors. Upon matriculation, students are assigned to one of eight Colleges and to one faculty mentor within that College.

Mentor Relationship

The student-mentor relationship lasts throughout the student’s medical school education. During the students’ second year, they meet regularly with their mentor and a small group of students from their College. During these weekly tutorials, mentors work with the students at the bedside, teaching them clinical skills and talking with them about patient-centered care and professionalism. All students obtain extensive experience interviewing and examining patients, under close supervision. 

During subsequent years, College faculty maintain contact with students, reflecting with them on their clerkship experiences, assessing their progress against learning objectives, helping them with career directions and decisions, and being available as needed for diverse concerns and discussions. Students also meet periodically with all members of their College, for social events and for peer counseling. 

The Colleges are named for natural wonders within the five WWAMI states: 
Cascade, Olympic, Palouse, Selkirk (Washington), Wind River (Wyoming), Denali (Alaska), Big Sky (Montana), and Snake River (Idaho).



Streaming Video

Back to the Bedside, an eight-minute film about the UW School of Medicine Colleges program, has received a Telly Award for outstanding video and film production. The UW film depicts interactions between students, mentors, and patients in the School of Medicine Colleges system.

Since the publication of this video, The UWSOM College program has gone through some structural changes. However, the spirit of the program continues across the five-state region with college mentor led small group teaching at the bedside.

​​​​Watch "Back to the Bedside" > 

More information is available at the Colleges web site.