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Learning Communities

From Medical Humanities to Humane Medicine

Meet the academic-oriented twin of our Colleges: the Learning Communities!

If the four advising colleges bring you wellness events and career advice, the four corresponding Learning Communities help you grow as thoughtful medical professionals as you:

  • Gather each week with 24 medical students from your class and two faculty mentors
  • Talk through questions about empathy, professionalism, human differences, and so much more
  • Learn from the practical experience and anecdotes of your faculty mentors
  • Get ready to enter and shape discussions about medical ethics, leadership, and health care policy

At Vanderbilt, we know that the sciences and the humanities can’t be separated from each other. Both are crucial for future physician-leaders like you. Learning Communities build the bridge from the practical science you learn in class and clinic to the art involved in becoming an excellent doctor.

The Basics of Learning Communities

Taught by eight highly qualified, expertly chosen faculty mentors, your sessions will cover several categories:

● In Ethics sessions, you’ll meet the major moral philosophies and tenets of biomedical ethics— not just theoretically, but practically applied to clinical cases and health care policy. These sessions give you space to take a closer look at your own moral intuitions and listen to your colleagues, patients, and their families.

● In Critical Thinking sessions, you’ll address hard questions like: How can I help my patients cope with grave illness and death? How should I separate my personal life from my patient care? What role do patient stories play in narrative medicine? Critical Thinking sessions will nurture your capacity for empathy and expand personal well-being.

● In Leadership sessions, you’ll identify your own strengths, grow in self-awareness, and learn strategies for conflict management within clinical settings. Leadership is both a quality and a process: learn how to excel in both.

● In Policy sessions, you’ll explore the hidden side of the health care system, from patient and physician rights to the influence you can have on health care costs as a physician.

Learning Communities Leadership

Beth Ann Yakes, MD

Beth Ann Yakes, MD

Community and the exchange of ideas remain vital to your development as a future physician. Dr. Yakes knows firsthand how to foster team learning.

Having served as a faculty mentor for Chapman College, she sees it as a privilege to connect with students on both professional and personal levels. Camaraderie with her medical school classmates at the University of Florida helped her to realize excellent patient care happens in teams. She brings this mindset into our Leadership Communities to foster a sense of belonging as students navigate the joys and challenges of human care together.

As a practicing board-certified internist, Dr. Yakes will tell you learning must continue throughout your career to grow in an ever-evolving field. She and the faculty mentors serve as constant resources during your time at the School of Medicine to set a foundation for lifelong learning.