Medical School

Academic Affairs Annual Report

Student Experience

In 2016, MCW continued to take the lead in providing students an inclusive culture, valuable collaboration and research experience. We developed programs including the Kaleidoscope Film Series to promote awareness, knowledge, understanding and acceptance of human diversity. Our opportunities for interprofessional education were expanded to include more than four times the previous year. And our efforts to provide a summer internship experience for students considering health-related careers is advancing as applications to our SPUR program saw an increase of 25% from the previous year.


MCW prides itself on being an inclusive community where all individuals are valued and respected. We are committed to recognizing, understanding and appreciating the variety of individual differences that make up our community, because we know that these differences make our community stronger and more vibrant. The diversity of MCW continues to be an important source of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments.

Through educational experiences and the inclusive culture fostered at MCW, we promote awareness, knowledge, understanding and acceptance of human diversity.  We aim to prepare today’s learners to be leaders and change agents in meeting diverse needs of our communities.

For example, the Diversity Summer Health-related Research Education Program, sponsored by the NIH, provides an opportunity for 14 students at the undergraduate, graduate, or medical school level to engage in productive bio molecular research under the guidance of MCW researchers. Other programs include the Apprenticeship in Medicine Program, the Research Opportunity for Academic Development in Science for high school students, and the American Chemical Society Project SEED Program.

In 2016, the Kaleidoscope Film Series was launched with a goal to promote an inclusive environment accepting of the many differences among us.  These films are part of a five year grant from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Endowment to develop pipeline programs dedicated to building long term partnerships with high schools and colleges/universities to attract future generations to careers in medicine.  These programs – available to all MCW faculty, staff, and students -  are in their infancy and will be nurtured and monitored in the coming years to ensure their effectiveness in reaching diverse populations.

Once students enter MCW, retention becomes a key consideration. Among the methods used to assist students in adjusting to the rigors of medical education are academic supportive services such as assistance with study skills, one-on-one tutoring, group tutoring, and discussion sessions. A wide variety of computer software programs, including self-guided course materials, are available for individual use in the library and student computer labs.

Interprofessional Education

MCW is equipping students to provide better, more efficient patient care by exposing students early on in their education to collaboration across professions.  This concept – interprofessional education (IPE) – is the practice of multiple professions learning with and from each other with the objective to cultivate collaboration and patient-centered health care – is emphasized to our students. MCW provided 24 IPE sessions for medical students in 2015-2016, an increase from five offered in 2014-2015.studentexp3v2

Students at MCW learn about and participate in IPE sessions throughout the curriculum and have an opportunity to work in student interdisciplinary teams with partnering institutions, IPE electives simulations, panel discussions and interdisciplinary case-based discussions to appropriately assess and address health care needs of a patient. Partners include Bellin College, MSOE School of Nursing, Columbia College of Nursing, Marquette University, Concordia University, Mount Mary University, Northwest Technical College, MATC and UW-Milwaukee. Students from the partnering institutions include pharmacists, medical interpreters, nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, radiology technicians, social workers, physical therapists, ultrasound technicians and more.

Educators in the new MCW Pharmacy School are working to develop areas in the curricula for interprofessional education among practitioners and partnering with the medical school to identify opportunities where both aspiring physicians and pharmacists can learn together and work as teams. According to George MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, founding dean of the Pharmacy School, “The pharmD curriculum encompasses longitudinal courses regarding patient-centered care and professional development to prepare students to be an integrated and useful member of the interprofessional health care team. Students will be given the opportunity to complete research, service learning projects, community engagement outreach programs, and practice clinical scenarios with a variety of health professionals in both the didactic and experiential settings.”

Dr. William Hueston, MCW’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, echoes this sentiment.

“Healthcare in the future will involve a team of professions who rely on the expertise of one another to provide the best care. To do this well, we will need to start this team process right from the beginning of health professional education," said Dr. Hueston.

Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR)

A record number of undergraduate students from universities across the country are spending their summer vacation pursuing scientific research at MCW as part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR). During a typical year, MCW hosts 25-30 participants. In 2016, there were 36 participants – the second most MCW has ever hosted. Applications to the program increased 25% from 2015 to 2016 and have averaged 367 per year since 2012.

The program, offered at MCW for more than 30 years, provides a summer internship experience for students considering health-related careers, especially in the biomedical sciences. As part of the program, the MCW Graduate School matches each student with a faculty mentor to provide hands-on research opportunities. Past participants have gone on to make significant contributions to science and humanity through their current positions as teachers, instructors, professors, researchers, industry professionals, government leaders and clinicians. One participant who hopes to be one of those contributors is Olivia Koehn, who participated in the program in 2015 and will be pursuing her PhD in biomedical sciences at MCW starting this fall.

“I was able to meet so many amazing people through the SPUR Program and learned much more than I thought was possible in ten weeks,” Olivia said. “There were a lot of technical skills that I was able to learn or improve upon, but I also really enjoyed hearing about the research that was being done at MCW. I was particularly proud of my final research presentation, because of the fact that I was able to showcase what I had accomplished and that I was able to overcome my anxieties about speaking in front of people. I feel that this experience, and the SPUR program in general, allowed me to grow substantially and gave me more confidence in my abilities to be successful in the field.”