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. 2016 Nov 1;21:32958.
doi: 10.3402/meo.v21.32958. eCollection 2016.

The Impact of Learning Communities on Interpersonal Relationships Among Medical Students

Free PMC article

The Impact of Learning Communities on Interpersonal Relationships Among Medical Students

Eve Privman Champaloux et al. Med Educ Online. .
Free PMC article


Background: Medical students at the University of Virginia (UVA) are mentored and learn within the framework of a four college learning community. Uniquely, these learning communities are used to organize the third-year clerkship rotations.

Methods: Students were surveyed after their first pre-clinical year and after their clerkship year to determine what the effect of the learning community was on their social and educational interpersonal relationships.

Results: Students knew a higher percentage of their college mates after completing their third-year clerkships within the framework of the college system. Students chose peers from within the college system for social and educational interpersonal scenarios statistically more often than what would be expected at random. Small group learning environments that were not formed within the framework of the college system at UVA did not have the same effect on interpersonal relationships, indicating that learning communities are uniquely able to provide a context for relationship building. Students felt more positively about the social and educational effects of the college system after the clerkship year, with a corresponding increase in the strength of their interpersonal bonds with their college peers.

Conclusion: This work is the first to investigate the effects of learning communities on interpersonal relationships among medical students and finds that learning communities positively impact both social and educational medical student bonds.

Keywords: interpersonal relationships; learning communities; social networks.

Conflict of interest statement

and funding The authors have not received any funding or benefits from industry or elsewhere to conduct this study.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
The effect of the University of Virginia college system on the social and education experiences of medical students. The majority of students felt that the college system had neither a positive nor a negative effect after first year, and that it had a positive effect after third year, on both their (a) social and (b) educational experience. (c) Students felt more positive about both the educational and social impacts of the college system after third year.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Students have more interpersonal relationships with students in their college and this effect increases after third year. (a) Students can identify a higher percentage of their college mates after third year. (b) Students would call upon students in their college more than expected (dotted line) for both social and educational scenarios, and this effect increases after third-year clerkships.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Students have more social and educational interactions with students from their college-derived small groups than their randomly assigned small groups. (a) Students rely on their CPD group more than expected (dotted line) for both social and educational scenarios equally after first and third years. (b) Students do not rely on their anatomy group more than expected (dotted line). (c) Students do not rely on their TBL group more than expected after either first year (dotted line) or third year (dashed line). (d) Students rely on people they met during orientation more for social than educational scenarios.

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