Ribbon Cutting LIFE Communities
By Hillary Angel - October 12, 2023

Medical education is constantly evolving, and to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of medical students, Loma Linda University School of Medicine has opened a new building that will serve as a gathering space for its LIFE Communities program.    

Located on the corner of University Avenue and Campus Street, the LIFE Communities house is a location for medical students to study, prepare for clinical activities and host LIFE Communities curriculum sessions. It also provides a neutral and comfortable setting for faculty coaching sessions and can accommodate group discussions on often challenging topics, creating a space for open and trust-based conversations.    

“The LIFE Communities house represents our commitment to nurturing not only exceptional medical professionals but also compassionate individuals,” said Tamara Thomas, MD, dean of Loma Linda University School of Medicine. “This dedicated space for our students allows them to also learn the importance of community, compassion, and connection - qualities that are important for physicians."   

Having a dedicated space not only fosters natural conversations but also provides a place for group meetings that can seamlessly transition into informal interactions, promoting stronger bonds.    

“We want our students feel at home while at Loma Linda and create moments that strengthen the feeling that they are not alone in their medical journey,” said Amy Hayton, MD, associate dean of Physician Formation & Wholeness, and director of LIFE Communities for Loma Linda University School of Medicine.    

To involve students in the building's planning and design, a group from the class of 2024 embarked on a mission to create an interior design plan. The plan incorporated colors, themes, and décor for each area within the building. Students played a role in suggesting elements like standing desks for studying and comfortable spaces, emphasizing the importance of a balance between work and relaxation.    

The LIFE Communities program was created in 2019 to offer medical students a support network and a faculty mentor to enhance their path toward becoming a physician. Incoming medical students are grouped into small LIFE Community groups of 10 students, with whom they share their academic journey throughout their four years of medical school. Each group is guided by a clinical faculty member who serves as a dedicated mentor and maintains regular interactions with the students. 

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on October 9, 2023, to commemorate the inauguration of the new LIFE Communities House. In attendance were Tamara Thomas, MD, who serves as the Dean of Loma Linda University School of Medicine, as well as other School of Medicine deans, LIFE Communities mentors, faculty members from the School of Religion, and generous donor Dr. Trang Ton, all coming together for the celebratory ceremony.