Densen awarded for his role in developing CCOM learning communities

Date: Monday, September 25, 2017

peter densenPeter Densen, MD, was honored with the 2017 Ron Arky Award from the Learning Communities Institute (LCI). He was presented the award at the LCI annual meeting, held Sept. 15 to 17, in Birmingham, Alabama. Densen is a professor of internal medicine—infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and the current faculty director of the Bean Learning Community.

A team effort

With the help of many colleagues, he spearheaded the formation of the learning communities (LCs) at the Carver College of Medicine in 1998. He also helped initiate the national LCI meetings, the first of which was held at the Carver College of Medicine in 2005.

“The formation of the LCs was a great team effort,” says Densen. “I am thrilled to have been selected for this award, and I am doing so on behalf of many, many colleagues who were instrumental in launching our LCs and in initiating the national LCI meetings.”

Instrumental in these efforts was Jane Rowat, who along with Associate Dean Densen, spent hours brainstorming and planning the learning communities as the nexus between curriculum and student affairs. After some adjustments and approval from Robert Kelch, MD, then dean of the Carver College of Medicine, the LCs were formed, and funding was arranged for more staff and faculty.

Launch of the learning communities

The physical home of the LCs was to be in the new Medical Education Research Facility (MERF), which was under construction at the time. Densen and Rowat visited other institutions during the design process. Marian Schwabbauer and Jerry Clancy, assistant deans working with Densen, also contributed to the development and implementation.

The Carver College of Medicine LCs were among the first five in the country. In the late 90s and early 2000s there was a burst of national interest in medical LCs. In response to this interest, the group took the lead in initiating a national LCI meeting on the UI campus in 2005. Eleven institutions attended this first event—now there are 65 to 75 schools in the national LCI. Rowat, Cathy Solow, Susan Lenoch, Joel Gordon, and Schwabbauer played critical roles in organizing this effort and getting it off the ground. Kristi Ferguson ensured that there was an academic element to the LCI and with her colleagues from other institutions, published the first comprehensive article about medical learning communities.