University of South Florida

Dedicated space for Collegia

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s new downtown Tampa building opened its doors this month. But the state-of-the-art facilities and beautiful views of Tampa Bay weren’t the only reasons to celebrate.

The new building includes 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 careers.

A USF Health medical student studies in the Farmer collegia recently in the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This is the first time that medical students have had a dedicated space for their collegia.

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, the associate dean of the USF Health’s Office of Student Affairs and the College of Medicine Family Medicine.

This is the first time each Collegium has its own dedicated space since USF instituted the program in April 2012.

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

A USF Health medical student decorates a window in the Osler Collegia in January 2020.

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.

The decorated logo of the Hippocrates collegia. 

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 a little home within a bigger home feeling” Dr. Kothari continued.

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


USF Health medical students decorated the Paracelsus Collegia in January 2020.














A dedicated space helps 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.

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” she added.

To commemorate entering their new spaces, the medical students of each Collegium held a decorating contest during orientation earlier this month.

A combination of faculty from student affairs and the advisors for each Collegium judged the decorating job done on each room, with Farmer being the highest-rated Collegium.

USF Health medical students painted an anchor in the Osler Collegia in January 2020.

Here is how the nine Collegium ranked:

1st: Farmer (Light blue)

2nd: Bourne (orange)

3rd: Koch (pink)

4th: Galen (purple)

5th: Paracelsus (green)

6th: Lower (red)

7th: Hippocrates (black)

8th: Osler (dark blue)

9th: Debakey (yellow)

In the Bourne Collegia, a Phoenix is illuminated.

Video, photos and article by Allison Long






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