Coaching in the Gateway Curriculum

In order for our students to reach their highest potential, faculty coaches walk alongside students on their path to becoming amazing physicians and physician scientists through the Gateway Curriculum. The overarching mission of the Gateway Coaching Program is to promote and develop a longitudinal coaching relationship to aid in the medical education journey and professional development of the learner.  This program replaces the traditional academic advising model and is a truly unique approach to supporting our students.

At orientation, each student is placed into a coaching cohort of eight to nine students where Gateway Coaches (clinician-educator faculty members) begin to guide students through individualized assessment data to foster lifelong learning. Coaching cohorts provide a safe and supportive environment for students to reflect on their values and passions so that they can become their most authentic selves as academic physicians. Students meet in cohorts and individually with their coaches–to process their experiences and build community and to review their individual competency portfolio and set learning goals.  The philosophy and guiding principles of the Gateway Coaching Program are presented here. The Coaching Program is led by Dr. Nichole Zehnder (director) and Dr. Amjad Musleh (associate director).


Personal and academic student advising occurs within two broad programs: Preclinical Counseling and Career Counseling. Our overall approach to advising is open, facilitative and flexible. The aim is to link students with faculty who have interest, knowledge and experience to best help students identify and achieve their goals. Students are encouraged to seek out and get to know any faculty members who have relevant information. Our accessible and highly student-friendly faculty welcomes inquiry from and interaction with students.

Support and Counseling for Underrepresented Students

Based in the Office of Diversity Programs, faculty and students collaborate to create an environment that supports personal achievement and development of students and faculty from diverse backgrounds.  Throughout the year, students and faculty organize and coordinate academic, cultural and social activities that promote multicultural awareness and sensitivity, and that teach cultural competence and celebrate diversity.

Career Advisors

Each third-year student selects a career faculty advisor who is a specialist in the field in which the student will be seeking a residency appointment. Career advisors have responsibility for reviewing the student’s choices for fourth-year electives and making appropriate recommendations for the structure and content of the elective year.

The Big Sib Program

Each year, second-year class social chairpersons match every incoming student with a second-year student who acts as a “Big Sib” (sibling). The matching is based on items like undergraduate institution attended, home address, extracurricular interests and anything else that match-makers can identify that first- and second-year students might have in common. The program’s annual kick-off starts with a picnic (hosted by the second-year class) where sibs get introduced and connected. Throughout the year sibs share advice, insights, class notes, materials and occasional inspirational treats like homemade cookies or a Starbucks gift card. Sweet!