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The Colleges

Goals of the Colleges System

The University of Washington School of Medicine takes a personalized approach to medical education and provides a deepening understanding of both fundamental clinical skills and professionalism. The Colleges System, one of a series of pioneering innovations in the M.D. curriculum, is at the core of this program.

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 history taking, 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 Foundations phase, students meet regularly with their mentor and a small group of students from their College. During these bi-weekly tutorials, mentors work with the students at the bedside, teaching them clinical skills and talking with them about patient-centered care and professionalism. Under close supervision students obtain extensive experience interviewing and examining patients.

During the Patient Care and Explore and Focus phases, 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 peer counseling.

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

More information is available at The Colleges web page.