In the Harry Potter books, chronicling the adventures of students possessing magic powers as they attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Matriculating students at Hogwarts attend a "sorting" ceremony at which they take turns donning an enchanted hat that assesses their personalities and then assigns them to one of four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
The four advising societies at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine were introduced in 2003. No magical hat was to be found, but utterance of the society names conjures up visions of some of the medical school's most notable alumni and faculty members: Blackwell-McKinley, Robbins, Satcher and Wearn.
Medical students will remain members of their assigned societies throughout their time in school and beyond. The groups aim to foster close relationships and a sense of community among the students, and the deans of the societies are serving as mentors, helping students navigate the curriculum. As the students progress in their education, the society deans will provide advice on residency and career planning.
Serving as the society deans are:
- Robert Haynie, M.D., Ph.D., a 1978 alumnus of the medical school, 1972 alumnus of the School of Graduate Studies, associate dean for student affairs and associate clinical professor of medicine;
- Lynda Montgomery, M.D., M.Ed. assistant dean for student affairs and associate professor of family medicine;
- Steven Ricanati, M.D., a 1995 medical alumnus, assistant dean for student affairs, and assistant professor of medicine; and
- C. Kent Smith, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs and professor of family medicine.
Dr. Haynie, who has been associate dean for student affairs since 2001, said he has appreciated the new society system. "The structure allows me to deal with issues other than just 'problems' which in the past made the Office of Student Affairs similar to that of a principal's office," he said.
Dr. Smith agreed: "We can already see the benefits of the program in its early stages." Students will continue to see benefits, too,
Dr. Haynie said. "Since all four years will be represented in each society, there will be cross-communication between years one through four," which hasn't been facilitated in the past, he said.
In a way, Dr. Ricanati said, his service as a society dean is a repayment to those who have counseled him in the past. "I have benefited from great mentoring, and I am interested in sharing my experiences and talents with students," he said, adding, "The society deans create a safety net to encourage students with a clear direction. I hope that the society deans will foster independence among the students but also be around to assist them when help is needed."