Collaborative Approach to Learning Medicine (CALM)

CALM (Collaborative Approaches to Learning Medicine) is a student-run organization that provides tutors and mentors for incoming first-year students.

At Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, collaboration and collegiality are considered vital to success in both medical school and in lifelong professional development.  This means the medical school curriculum has many differences from undergraduate and other educational experiences. For first year students, especially, there is a lot to learn about how medical school “works” and what to expect from the variety of courses and myriad types of new tests and requirements.  Information and support from those who have more experience can make a big difference.

Whether you are an outgoing or keep-it-all to yourself kind of personality, it’s important to learn from peers and colleagues as well as from faculty and administration.  Each student responsible to know the school and course policies and all of you will have mandatory sessions with administration to get crucial information and feedback at many points during your course of study. It is also natural and growth promoting if you are wise in the way you network with other students and learn to benefit from peers.  Each student must strike the right balance; choosing the type and amount of guidance that is best for you as an individual while developing your ability to self-assess your progress and use all your best resources on the path to your professional future. 

As part of the NJMS experience students benefit directly from the mentoring and support of students in the class above them through the program known as CALM – Collaborative Approach to Learning Medicine.  In cooperation with faculty and administration, CALM is run by students,  for students,   working closely with both The Center for Academic Success and Enrichment (CASE)  and the NJMS Office of Student Affairs (OSA). 


CALM provides 3 major services to first year students through Mentoring, Academic Reviews and tutoring.  Mentoring begins during Orientation week and for many it continues throughout the following 3 years of medical school. CALM activities are especially visible during first year, to accommodate the many changes and accelerated “learning curve” common in the new students’ experience. The CALM Services and the Program Coordinators – chosen from the current Class of 2017 to serve the current first year Class of 2018 – are listed below, along with a brief description of the assistance provided.

  • CALM Mentoring provides each first year student with a second year student from Orientation onward.  The second year mentor meets with the first year student, offers general guidance for the transition to medical school life and helps the student network to find resources and guidance.  This mentor is a source of encouragement and advice, as well as providing some social activities.  Mentoring Coordinators:  Contact these students for assistance with first year mentoring needs (school & social activities, resources, general information) Maddalena Allegretta,  John Sheng, and Ruchika Talwar

  • CALM Academic Reviews are given by upper class students who have shown scholarly excellence in the material and who are developing their talents as medical educators/teachers.  Academic reviewers provide sessions and/or podcasts to assist in preparation for course examinations during first year courses.  All first year students are strongly encouraged to attend the CALM review sessions before exams. CALM Academic Review Coordinators:  Contact these students for obtaining information about review sessions and resources for first year course exams.  Calvin Leung,  Ruchika Talwar , and Hannah Wey

  • CALM Tutoring is geared to assisting first year students with course-specific learning and execution of study schedules to enhance an organized approach to learning and to optimize retention.  A CALM tutor may help a student in choosing and utilizing resources to learn course material, or work on material within the course that is particularly difficult.  CALM tutors do not “teach” the material, per se, but first year students can identify difficulty they are having in the course – how to structure their study, how to use practice questions, how to find out whether they are preparing the material in adequate detail, etc.  Second year students who have taken the same courses just the year before can provide support for making decisions that facilitate early, properly directed study to maximize efficient learning. Tutoring Coordinators: Contact these students for assistance with obtaining tutoring (individual, group or walk-in hours) in a first year course --  Ariel Schaap, Kevin Chu   and Remy Friedman  


The faculty advisor for CALM is Dr. Sarah Karl, Assistant Dean of Academic Development and Student Affairs,