Dedicated space for Collegia

When medical students at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM) move into the new downtown Tampa building, the state-of-the-art facilities and beautiful views of Tampa Bay won’t be the only reasons to celebrate.

The new building will include dedicated space for each of the school’s nine Collegia, groups made up of students at all stages of training that provide mentoring and personal support throughout their medical school career.

Collegia’s view from the third floor of the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

“There are a lot of pieces that are outside the classroom, pieces that are designed to help them (medical students) evolve into doctors who can take care of themselves, each other and patients” said Kira Zwygart, MD, associate dean of the MCOM’s Office of Student Affairs and professor in the Department of Family Medicine.

This will be the first time each Collegium will have its own dedicated space since USF Health instituted the program in April 2012.

“A physical space will help each Collegia foster the sense of community for students,” Dr. Zwygart said.

Milind Kothari, DO, FAAN, is associate dean of the Collegia Program. He said that most schools that have similar learning communities feel the lack of dedicated space.

By having dedicated space in the new building “we are at the forefront among most schools because we have prime real estate dedicated to collegia,” Dr. Kothari said.

“The concept is to a create the feeling of a little home within a bigger home” Dr. Kothari continued.

Collegia will have plenty of spaces for medical students to study, eat and relax. Lockers are also provided for students and advisors.

According to Dr. Kothari, the main goals for Collegia is to provide medical students:

  • Professional role models and long-term personal relationships among their peers
  • A sense of community
  • Career planning guidance
  • Robust strategies for taking care of their physical and emotional health

A dedicated space will help alleviate any disconnect students of varying years may experience, Dr. Kothari said. For example, third- and fourth-year students can have an easier time building relationships with the first- and second-year medical students if they’re all meeting, studying and mentoring in the same place.

“The chance meeting opportunities will increase” added Dr. Zwygart.

The Collegia will feature a kitchen as one of its many amenities.

Medical school leaders said students are pleased to have a dedicated space for their Collegia.

“This has generated the most excitement about Collegia,” Dr. Zwygart said. “The idea of having their own space in the new building.”

Medical students suggested a decorating contest for each of the nine Collegium, which will take place during orientation on Jan. 10, 2020.

Photos and article by Allison Long