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Mentoring Communities

Mentoring Communities are faculty-led student communities that provide an administrative structure through which students can experience individualized advising and mentoring that fosters personal and professional growth, some within a specific identity group. Additionally, it is intended that these communities teach and model professionalism, enhance connectivity and collaboration both between students, residents, and faculty as well as among classes, and promote student wellness.


VTCSOM seeks to develop physician thought leaders by cultivating the knowledge, attitudes and skills of research, inquiry, and discovery.  The development of a thought leader is a deliberate process that extends beyond the classroom.  Effective student advising and mentoring is an integral component of training physician thought leaders and is essential to a medical student's personal and professional development.


Each group will be a community of belonging within VTCSOM where learners can interact with faculty members and residents. Some groups will share common identity characteristics; all groups work toward individual growth through engagement and mentorship.


  • To promote personal development, professional identity formation, leadership skills, and cultural identity affirmation.
  • To facilitate opportunities for networking.


  • To teach and model professionalism
  • To enhance connectivity and collaboration across the continuum of medical education
  • To promote cultural identity affirmation
  • To support student and resident well-being

Composition of the communities

  • Faculty mentor(s)
  • Residents
  • VTCSOM medical students

Communities (total of 14-20):

  • Latinx (1)
  • African American (1)
  • Asian (1 or 2)
  • First-Generation (1)
  • LGBTQ+ (1)
  • Committed, long-distance relationship (1 or 2)
  • No particular identity (6-15)

The size of the Mentoring Communities will vary by interest within the following parameters

  • At least one and no more than three faculty mentors
  • At least one and no more than four residents
  • At least six and no more than 18 VTCSOM medical students

There is a VTCSOM staff member assigned to each group; the staff member serves as the communication liaison for the Mentoring Community leader(s) and students.

Finally, each group may have a member of the greater Roanoke community. These assignments are made by the Mentoring Community leaders in conjunction with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Student Affairs (SA) offices.

What are the desired qualities of a Mentoring Community Leader?

The faculty physician leaders of the Mentoring Communities will be exemplary professional and personal role models who embody the character and skills desired of our VTCSOM graduates. They will be enthusiastic about working with medical students to help mold and shape them into such graduates, regardless of the career path the student might choose. They will have a “heart” for students, be approachable and available, possess refined listening and communication skills, maintain personal integrity, and have the desire to open their lives to help shepherd students through medical school from matriculation until graduation. They will be willing to learn about and participate in faculty development activities to help them develop their skills as a student mentor and personal/professional role model.

Who can be a Mentoring Community Leader?

All VTCSOM faculty members are eligible to be a Mentoring Community Leader, with the exception of physicians who serve as Associate or Senior Deans within the medical school and those who serve as VTCSOM Clerkship Directors. In general, it is expected that Mentoring Community leaders will have at least 5 years of clinical experience beyond their residency training, but exceptions to this could be made based on the attributes of a particular faculty member.

What is the time commitment for a Mentoring Community Leader?

The time commitment will vary to a certain degree based on the particular Mentoring Community leader and community, but it is estimated to be 15-20 hours a year.  At a minimum, a Mentoring Community leader would be expected to do the following:

  • Be available to meet with students individually at the student’s request (variable). 
  • Meet with students either individually or by class at least once during an academic year (3-6 hours).
  • Facilitate at least two gatherings of the entire Mentoring Community during an academic year.  This could include such things as a journal club, a book club, viewing and discussing a movie or article, attending a lecture together and meeting afterward to discuss, or meeting to discuss patient care or professionalism issues.  These gatherings could also be purely social (2-6 hours).
  • Complete leadership training. (1 – 1.5 hours – One-time training).

A schedule for the typical academic year would look like the following:

  • Summer: Initial meeting/training for Mentoring Community Leaders (1-1.5 hours)
  • Fall: An initial Mentoring Community group gathering (2-3 hours)
  • Winter-Spring: Meet with all community students individually or in class groups (3-10 hours)
  • Spring: Mentoring Community group gathering (1-3 hours)

Does the school reimburse for Mentoring Community Leader time?

VTCSOM is able to provide Mentoring Community leaders (one per individual mentoring community) with a stipend of $2500 that is intended to help offset some of the expenses incurred by the leaders.