Mentoring is a crucial part of professional development in medical school, and students will need a network of mentors over the course of their career to help them learn and grow. At Vanderbilt, we offer many opportunities to identify and create mentoring relationships. Each student will have two faculty college mentors available for mentoring around well-being, career advising, and professional identity formation. In addition, a portfolio coach will work with students through all four years, following their progress and coaching around their assessment data. As students decide on a clinical specialty, specialty mentors will offer advice, make connections, create opportunities, and help prepare students to succeed in the residency Match. Vanderbilt additionally offers several peer-mentoring opportunities allowing students meaningful relationships across the classes and the ability to learn not only how to be a great mentee, but how to mentor others.
All entering students are placed in one of the four advisory Colleges upon matriculation—Batson, Chapman, Gabbe, or Robinson. Each College is led by two faculty College Mentors, with whom students meet regularly in groups and individually, as needed. At these meetings the students discuss their progress, wellness, and career exploration. In addition to group and individual meetings, the College Mentors have weekly office hours, as well as study breaks for students. Students may connect with their College Mentors at any time for guidance and support.
Upon matriculating, each student is assigned to a Portfolio Coach and develops a learning portfolio. Students meet with their Portfolio Coaches individually at designated time points to critically review individual performance data and establish academic goals across all domains of competence. Additionally, each student should meet with his/ her Portfolio Coach on an as-needed basis to review any specific academic concerns.
As students approach their senior year of medical school, they are urged to choose an adviser from the specialty in which they will apply for residency. Once established, this advisory relationship exists for the duration of the residency application and the National Residency Match processes. Student Advisers provide academic and career counseling, strategic schedule planning, and interviewing advice specific to the specialty of choice. The primary goal of this relationship is to provide students with resources to most effectively obtain a successful residency match.
Master Clinical Teachers
Master Clinical Teachers are experienced clinicians who meet with students individually and in pairs at the patient’s bedside to provide customized learning, as well as formative assessment about how students are progressing along their professional journey. The Master Clinical Teacher directly observes the student perform a history and physical examination, provides direct bedside feedback, discusses assessment, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic plans. Emphasis is placed on watching to what extent the student can perform independently and on providing direct, at-the-bedside feedback to the student regarding clinical skills.
Clinical preceptors are critical to the success of the Foundations of Health Care Delivery (FHD1) Continuity Clinical Experience (CCX) course. Students are placed in clinical sites for one afternoon per week throughout their first year of medical school. The clinical site acts as an educational “home” where students become part of the clinical team. Because the learning in FHD is more than simply an early clinical clerkship, students are given assignments that help them better understand the systems of care in which they are learning. Assignments are completed in clinic and are designed to provide opportunities to learn about systems of care in the clinical microenvironment. Over time, we expect students to bring value to the clinic as they progress from beginning to intermediate to advanced learners.
Research Directors, content experts representing diverse areas of research from across the institution, work with the Office of Medical Student Research (OMSR) to provide guidance to students throughout all four years of medical school. In the second year of medical school, students work with Research Directors (RDs) and OMSR faculty to identify and select a research area of interest, question, and mentor to partner with for their PLAN and Research Immersion courses.
During the Research Immersion experience, RDs and mentors provide guidance and support, from project inception to completion. Both RDs and mentors introduce students to resources and collaborators, help students refine their research and analytical skills, and model the life of a physician-scientist. Mentors provide day-to-day supervision of each student while RDs meet with students regularly, engage in programing to expose students to the research enterprise and offer broad oversight of student projects; providing recommendations on each students’ deliverables: abstract, poster, and oral presentation. Students are further supported by OMSR through skill-building sessions, Lunch & Learns, programming throughout their experiences as well supporting students who wish to pursue extended research fellowships such as the Vanderbilt Medical Scholars Program.
Much like for FHD, clinical preceptors are critical to the success of the Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning (VPIL). Teams of interprofessional students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and counseling are placed in clinical sites for one afternoon per week throughout their first and second years of professional school. The clinical site acts as an educational “home” where students become part of the clinical team. Preceptors play an invaluable role in the education and clinical training of VPIL’s interprofessional students. They facilitate constructive learning experiences for students who are being educated in a profession that is different from their own. Preceptors are more than vital to the program – they are essential in making the program successful and enriching the learning for our students. A small portion of each participating school gets the opportunity to work on a team of interprofessional students in the same clinic for two years. This program is unique in every way compared to the other participating school’s curricula and the preceptors are the most integral aspect.