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​​On December 6, 2012, the University of Colorado medical students, along with a group of deans and faculty mentors, launched an ambitious new Advisory College Program (ACP). The ACP will promote student wellness and academic and career success, with a focus on structured mentorship of students and community-building activities. More than 300 students attended the kick-off event at the Denver Zoo, providing students and faculty the opportunity to connect and mingle with their colleges.

Building an ACP at the School of Medicine

The idea for an advisory college system took root more than a year ago, following the Academy of Medical Educators’ Faculty Development Seminar presented by Dr. Scott Rogers, Dean of Student Affairs at Vanderbilt University. Students and faculty at the School of Medicine were energized to build a similar advising and wellness program to address the needs of CU students. A short year later, the School of Medicine introduced its own ACP.

Structure of the ACP

The ACP is a structured advising program that organizes all medical students into “colleges” comprised of existing problem-based learning groups. Each Advisory College is led by two faculty college mentors and two or three student advisors who are current fourth-year medical students. College mentors and student advisors were selected following a call for applications and have since attended several training sessions.

The eight colleges are named after Colorado Fourteeners.


Survey Reveals Medical Students’ Perceptions and Needs

The ACP is designed to meet specific medical student needs and gaps which were identified from a 2012 survey on advising, wellness, and community. The survey found that:

  • Only 54 percent of medical students reported having an advisor (less than one-third of students in the preclinical years).
  • Only 16 percent of students reported being satisfied with the current advising system, which relied on clinical and research mentorship.
  • 65 percent of all students reported symptoms of burnout. 

The percentage of students reporting symptoms of burnout varied by class year.

  •  First-year students: 50 percent
  •  Second-year students: 85 percent
  •  Third-year students: 76 percent
  •  Fourth-year students: 56 percent

In the survey, students also reported a linearly decreasing sense of loyalty to the School of Medicine as they progressed through their education. In fact, 90 percent of first-year students reported a sense of loyalty to the School of Medicine decreasing to 70 percent among fourth-year students.

More than 85 percent of students in every class reported feeling supported and accepted by members of their own class. The vast majority of first-year students (91 percent) and second-year students (80 percent) reported feeling like they belong to a community at the School of Medicine. The proportions were significantly lower among students in their clinical years (64 percent of third-year students and 68 percent of fourth-year students).

The ACP seeks to address these challenges by improving student wellness, enhancing career advising and strengthening students’ ties to each other, to faculty and to the School of Medicine.

For more information, contact the Office of Student Affairs.