Measuring medical students' sense of community and satisfaction with a structured advising program

Rachel B. Levine, Robert B. Shochet, Danelle Cayea, Bimal H. Ashar, Rosalyn W. Stewart and Scott M. Wright

Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Submitted: 20/05/2011; Accepted: 26/10/2011; Published: 02/11/2011

Int J Med Educ. 2011; 2:125-132; doi: 10.5116/ijme.4ea7.e854

© 2011 Rachel B. Levine et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess changes in students' perceptions of the medical school sense of community and their satisfaction with advising following the initiation of a structured advising program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Methods: Participants included School of Medicine graduates from 2006 to 2009. Total sample size was 471. The response rate was 367/471 (81%). A cross-sectional survey design was utilized to assess students' perceived differences in advising and sense of community. Scales were developed to assess these constructs. Scale scores and responses to individual items were compared by graduation year.

Results: Statistically significant increases over time were noted on the Advising Satisfaction (F (3,363) = 6.54; p≤0.001) and the Relational Community (F(3,363) = 2.76; p=0.042) scales. Using simple logistic regression, unadjusted Odds Ratios show that students graduating in 2009 report higher quality of advising during their clinical years (OR 2.87, 95% CI=1.56-5.28), around academics (OR 2.54, 95% CI=1.41-4.60), career planning (OR 1.87, 95% CI=1.03-3.38), stress management (OR 2.88, 95% CI=1.56-5.30), and an enhanced sense of community (OR 2.55, 95% CI=1.40-4.64), and social integration (OR 2.07, 95% CI=1.15-3.71) compared to 2006 graduates.

Conclusions: We found, that students were more satisfied with advising and the medical school environment over the four years of maturation of the Program. A structured advising program that fosters meaningful, longitudinal relationships between students and advisors may enhance students' experiences during medical school