Advising Overview

Several venues of advising are available to students including the Advisory College Advisors, Career Goal Advisors, the Class Advocate Program, Chief Mentors, Educational Resources Coordinator, Clinical Academic Resources Director of the Office of Student Affairs, and confidential personal counseling at the Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS).

The Advisory College Program

An advising and career and professional development program which was established in 2008 at the UNC School of Medicine.  The program was developed in order to create an organized and structured system of advising whereby students benefit from the ongoing support and wisdom of experienced faculty, educators and role models of professionalism at our institution.  The goal of this program is to foster a relationship between each student and a faculty member where students receive guidance and counseling in order to be successful in their endeavor to create their own physician identity.

Career Goal Advisors

Help students prepare residency applications, recommend courses or research opportunities, and assist students who are conflicted about specialty selection and/or residency program choices. Some departments assign the Career Goal Advisor to student assignments based on specialty interest, but more often third and fourth year students choose Career Goal Advisors from a panel of faculty who are active in the department of their specialty selection. Career Goal Advisors stay in close contact with fourth year students during the residency program application process to help with choosing references for letters, provide tips on interviews, and suggest strategies for ranking programs.

The Class Advocate Program

Composed of 12 students per class, who are selected annually by their classmates to be advocates and serve as peer counselors based on their records of service, diversity, and good academic standing. Advocates serve for a one year term, and are assigned to one of 6 advisory colleges, where they participate in Advisory College lunchtime sessions, coordinate social aspects of the colleges, hold informal support sessions and invite confidential inquiries. They help their peers find appropriate educational and mental health resources, and guide them in resolving common academic, administrative and personal problems such as financial aid, leaves of absence, scheduling, sexual and racial harassment, appropriate treatment of medical students, health and safety requirements, Student Health Services, academic assistance, maternity leave, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, family planning, Whitehead Council, Student Honor Court, etc. Advocates receive guidance from veteran advocates, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the Director of Counseling and Wellness Services, and the Office of Student Affairs staff. Many second year Advocates participate in the planning and implementation of the one week Orientation Program for incoming first year students. Advocates provide practical assistance to students in accessing medical school and university services throughout medical school.

Clinical Academic Resources Director

Clinical Academic Resources (CAR) is a new program designed to facilitate the development of the UNCSOM curriculum in clinical skills, communication, and professionalism and provide academic counseling and remediation for those curricula.  The program is meant to complement the medical knowledge academic support provided by the Academic Assistance Program and operationalize the new Competency Driven Support Program (CDSP), which is described in a separate document.  The director, Dr. Cheryl McNeil, works closely with the curriculum committees, the clinical faculty, the Advisory College, and the Office of Student Affairs, as well as the Professionalism and Clinical Skills task forces.  The goal is to integrate the work of these groups into a cohesive resource that ensures that every student has successfully mastered the UNC School of Medicine clinical, communication, professional competencies prior to graduation.

Educational Resources Coordinator

A doctoral level educator with experience in support services in higher education for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders. The ERC provides academic counseling and assistance to students who refer themselves or are referred by faculty, staff, advisors, Student Promotions Committee, Medical Education Development program, class advocates or peers. The ERC typically meets with students individually in a private office in the Office of Student Affairs, to discuss demands of courses; identify student expectations, goals, and values; recognize strengths, weaknesses, and approaches to learning; and consider students’ learning style preferences, time management and organizational skills. Study plans may be designed based on approaches to learning and studying, test taking strategies, error analysis, and stress management techniques in order to avoid, address, or remediate academic problems. Additional issues that may impact academic progress include: deceleration, diagnosed or suspected learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or other disabilities; waning self-confidence/self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, grief, concerns with relationships or other psychosocial conditions or psychiatric diagnoses; transition to medical school, harassment/abuse; and health concerns. For issues that are beyond the scope of services of the ERC, referrals are readily made to appropriate school, campus, and community resources.

The ERC tracks student performance on all exams to identify students who have academic difficulty as early as possible. In addition, the ERC tracks students who faculty or administrators identify as at risk, and students who identify themselves as potentially at risk. In the process of tracking, the ERC contacts students and their advisor via email to invite them to make an appointment and/or suggest resources (tutoring, meeting with course directors and/or faculty, referrals to student advocates).

Personal Counseling

Professional confidential psychological counseling is offered at Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS), Records are maintained at CWS and cannot be accessed through the hospital’s record keeping data base.