Communities of Learning

Communities of learning provide medical students with opportunities for mentored study in selected areas of interest relevant to medicine in addition to the MD Program. Currently, the MD Program offers three communities of learning: social justice, medical/health humanities and research. In-depth exploration of these areas complements the core curriculum by allowing for personal interests and activities to become scholarship.

Communities of learning are an optional, voluntary part of the MD Program curriculum. No additional tuition is required to participate.

The requirements and expectations of communities of learning vary. You should carefully review the information provided below about the three communities and contact faculty leads with any questions. To request acceptance into a community of learning, you must be in good standing with the MD Program.

Social Justice Community of Service + Scholarship

Faculty Lead: Jill Konkin, MD


The Social Justice Community of Service and Scholarship (SJ CoSS) is an opportunity for medical students to:

  • Explore issues of social justice, health equity, power and privilege and other related areas more deeply
  • Interact with people from underserved communities
  • Partner with a community agency or organization serving these communities

Based on the community service learning principles of theory, service and reflection, SJ CoSS collaborates with the university’s Community Service Learning Unit to maintain and expand partnerships with community agencies.

Participants in the SJ CoSS will identify agencies that they would like to be partnered with from an annual list that is made available in August. Program leads will attempt to match students with an agency in their top three choices.

Students engage with the liaison at the community agency to discuss areas of need for the agency and the population it serves and agree on an initiative for the students to undertake during their time there. Through these placements, students will explore health and social issues faced by populations experiencing health inequities in the community.

Participation in this community is open to Year 1 students with the option to continue in Year 2.

For more information and application details, contact


Students in SJ CoSS will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of social justice and health equity to better serve our communities
  • Develop an asset-based approach to community engagement
  • Contribute to meeting FoMD’s social accountability mandate

Medical/Health Humanities Community of Learning

Faculty Lead: Pamela Brett-MacLean, PhD


The Medical/Health Humanities Community of Learning (M/HH CoL) provides medical students with opportunities for individualized, interest-based exploration of the interdisciplinary field of medical/health humanities.

M/HH CoL is a joint effort involving FoMD’s Arts & Humanities in Health & Medicine (AHHM) program and the Medical Students’ Association (MSA) AHHM Student Committee. Students in the /HH CoL explore questions relevant to health, health care and medicine through the approaches and perspectives of arts, humanities and social sciences.

M/HH CoL aims to provide a broader view of medicine and health care to support the development of well-rounded, compassionate physicians and to promote scholarship and leadership in the medical/health humanities.


After completing M/HH CoL requirements, students will demonstrate:

  • Heightened ability to critically reflect on the roles and responsibilities of health-care practitioners
  • Enhanced self-awareness, other-awareness, responsiveness, personal growth and professional development
  • Skills in critical reflection and thoughtfulness with respect to complex ethical and other challenging issues in medicine
  • Enhanced ability and comfort when navigating uncertainty in clinical situations
  • Ability to role model compassionate care, to help create a better future for health, health care and medicine


The M/HH CoL includes curricular, co-curricular scholarship and leadership components. Students are required to complete 90 hours across four categories of activity:

  1. Orienting to/Engaging in M/HH CoL
    • Complete at least one of two 12-hour AHHM “gateway” electives: “The Healer’s Art: Remembering the Heart of Medicine” and/or “Border Crossings: Introduction to M/HH”
    • Participate in 16-20 hours of interest group meetings and attend M/HH events
  2. Directed Exploration
    • Complete two or more AHHM or other M/HH electives for a total of 24-36 hours
    • Students are also encouraged to attend events, participate in discussions and reflect on their engagement in M/HH

Contributing to M/HH CoL

  • Students will contribute 10-25 hours toward scholarship and leadership contributions including student-initiated and student-led M/HH activities.
  • Complete an independent project that results in a publication or presentation
  • Other creative options include narrative, poetry, films, plays, podcasts, curriculum modules and electives, policy briefs and other curricular contributions

Ongoing Exploration

  • Students will participate in additional M/HH-related learning experiences, such as book club, film group and lectures for up to 40 hours.
  • Offering great flexibility, surplus accumulated hours in different categories can be flexed forward to meet activity-hour requirements.

Structures + Processes

  • To encourage participation in M/HH opportunities, enrolled students will receive AHHM emails for notices of local events) and access to the AHHM Updates Google Group for notices about online events organized around the world.
  • Students are encouraged to participate in M/HH CoL events throughout all four years of medical school.
  • Students must track their M/HH activity and related contributions using individualized Google Forms to ensure an up-to-date record of the progress they are making in fulfilling M/HH CoL requirements.
  • Students meet once a year, usually in April, with the faculty lead to discuss their progress and future plans.
  • Upon completion of 90 hours of activity, students are awarded "Level 1" recognition, with a certificate signed by the MD Program associate dean and M/HH CoL faculty lead.
  • Students who complete 160 hours toward M/HH CoL activities are awarded “Level 2” recognition and a signed certificate of distinction.
  • AHHM “Associate” status is conferred on students who complete M/HH CoL requirements.


Incoming medical school students can attend an introduction session to M/HH CoL in August during Orientation Week.

Students are encouraged to apply to join the M/HH CoL during the first two years of medical school. The application deadline for Year 1 students is at the end of January and the end of November for Year 2 students. Exceptions may be considered for Year 3 and 4 students who provide evidence of participation in M/HH electives and activities during pre-clerkship.

M/HH CoL requirements can be completed through all four years of medical school.

Additional Information

Completion of AHHM and other M/HH-related electives listed in the MD Program’s Pre-Clerkship Electives Catalogue fulfils the MD Program’s requirement to complete a minimum of 12 hours of electives during Years 1 and 2.

Students can apply for up to $500 of travel funding support to present their scholarly work at conferences. For information about the application process, contact

M/HH-related electives and other activities are open to all interested students including those who do not intend to complete M/HH CoL requirements. For more information and application details, contact

Community of Research

Faculty Lead: Adam Kinnaird, MD, PhD


The Community of Research (CoRe) is designed to supplement the education of FoMD trainees. CoRe focuses on developing tangible research competencies important for the effective practice of evidence-based medicine and for nurturing aspiring physician-scientists. CoRe is a collaborative program led by a faculty-appointed clinician-scientist and student representatives.

Scope + Mission

CoRe primarily serves the trainees of the MD Program and functions as a hub for research trainees outside of the MD Program, including master’s and PhD-level graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as post-graduate medical learners.

CoRe’s mission is to support medical trainees in their pathways to becoming clinician-scientists and to advance their practice of evidence-based medicine. To achieve this objective, CoRe organizes events, learning opportunities and initiatives to supplement the research training within the medical program and help bridge the gap between medicine and research.

Additional Information

This learning community provides an opportunity for students to explore research and medicine with varying levels of commitment. Students can attend sessions to learn about research, take on a summer project, commit to the STIR program or join the MD/PhD program. Students who have completed master’s and PhD programs are also encouraged to participate.

The MD Program has a research event one evening in the fall where students present their research in poster format. Attending this event allows students to find out more about research opportunities in the faculty and talk to fellow medical students who have been part of research projects.

Students can apply for up to $500 of travel funding support to present their scholarly work at conferences. For information about the application process, contact

For more information and application details, contact