Rocky Vista University (RVU) is a health-sciences institution of higher learning spanning three states. The founding campus is located in the town of Parker, Colorado—just 20 miles southeast of Denver—a community is known for its excellent school system, extensive biking and jogging trails, recreational facilities, dining, and entertainment, as well as a wide variety of arts and community events held throughout the year. The Colorado campus hosts a 145,000 square foot medical education facility with multiple auditoriums, laboratories, a simulation center, and study areas that have been professionally engineered to promote a positive learning environment. This includes a standardized patient lab that has been designed and equipped to replicate the testing facilities of the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, as well as the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.
Rocky Vista University’s second location is in Ivins, Utah—10 miles from downtown St. George. The Southern Utah campus hosts a 104,000 square foot medical education building with two 200-seat lecture halls, three seminar rooms, 36 breakout rooms, an osteopathic clinical skills lab, a full dissection gross anatomy lab, a multipurpose/ neuroanatomy/ ultrasound lab, a simulation center, standardized patient rooms, and a 4,300 square foot library. The Southern Utah campus also includes a 23,000 square foot medical office building across the street, for administrative offices and a medical clinic. Additionally, the Southern Utah Veterans Home, which is adjacent to the campus, provides students with longitudinal care experience. The breathtaking Snow Canyon State Park is just 5 minutes from campus, which offers biking, hiking, and other recreational activities.
The Rocky Vista University’s third campus is located in Billings, Montana – the largest city in the state. The flagship Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine (MCOM) sits on 12.8 acres and will house a 138,000 square foot technologically advanced medical education building. The new facility boasts a massive state-of-the-art simulation center, expansive active learning classrooms, a full gross anatomy cadaver lab, a research lab, and a large library with ample study spaces throughout the building. The building will also have a yoga studio, a well-equipped fitness center, expansive green lawns with walking trails to promote student wellness. Numerous giant-sized windows provide ample natural light and will showcase Montana’s famous Big Sky. The Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine will have the distinction of being the first four-year medical school with a dedicated campus in the state and is expected to launch in July 2023.
RVU takes pride in its experienced and talented administration, faculty, and staff, as well as its exceptional student body. A strong sense of community is evident at RVU.
The curriculum at RVU is intended to expose students to cross-cultural and intergroup dynamics in the successful treatment of diverse patients or work contexts with people from many backgrounds. And while it is the responsibility of the faculty (not the students) to present material related to student’s preparation for delivering services in diverse settings, the diversity present in the student body can also be a great source for acquiring cross-cultural information and learning about different groups.
Learning about your fellow Rocky Vista University (RVU) students who represent different group or social identities can add significantly and positively to your healthcare education experience. RVU is no different than many other educational institutions in that students encounter people from diverse backgrounds, including (but not limited to) race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, veteran-status, nationality, religion, age, citizenship, and socio-economic status. Interacting with individuals who represent different cultural/social identity groups can be educationally beneficial, yet also challenging. That is, language, culture, worldviews, perspectives, customs, and traditions can be an asset in creating diverse learning environments and forming positive intercultural relationships, but can also become barriers that prevent students from creating conflict-free and productive learning and workplace climates.
The following are suggestions for enhancing your RVU intergroup learning experience via successfully interacting across cultural differences, easing the process of interacting across student individual and group differences, and maximizing the creation of positive and welcoming learning environments:
- Go out of your way to interact with as many students as you can, in particular with those who are different than you. RVU presents a tremendous opportunity to accomplish this goal. These interactions and dialogues will expand your knowledge about different individuals, identity groups, cultures, and backgrounds.
- Communication across diverse groups and individuals is a learned skill that will be helpful in your work as healthcare practitioners. Learning to effectively communicate in culturally diverse environments can be both extremely challenging and rewarding.
Thus, when interacting:
- Be patient with other students and ask that they be patient with you as you try to learn about each other’s backgrounds.
- In talking to someone who comes from a different background, try to ask questions in a respectful manner and at an appropriate time. Instead of asking, “Why don’t all Latinos speak Spanish?” try “I don’t know if you can answer a question for me. I’m not assuming that you can, but I was wondering if you could educate me a little bit on one aspect of Latino culture about which I have always been curious: Why do some Latinos speak Spanish and others do not?”
- No matter how curious you are about someone’s physical characteristics or personal appearance, such as hair texture, color of skin, jewelry, or clothing, do not touch any of those personal items or characteristics unless you are given permission.
- Allow each other to make mistakes as you develop your cross-cultural communication skills. Grant each other “redos” and use mistakes and unintentional insensitivities as learning moments. If you make a mistake, apologize for the error and commit to learning from your mistake in order to avoid the faux pas in the future.
- If you are the person being asked about your cultural background, be patient with the people who are doing the asking. In many cases, the other person does not know how or what to ask and is simply trying to learn.
- Keep your assumptions and stereotypes in check. Don’t assume. Ask questions. Often, these assumptions are based on damaging stereotypes and can inhibit people from forming trusting, effective, and authentic relationships. Practice using social justice education communication techniques, such as calling-in (i.e., respectfully correcting the person) vs calling-out (i.e., attacking and embarrassing the person), active listening, cognitive empathy (i.e., perspective-taking), non-personalizing of issues, and other techniques that support the learning process during difficult conversations.
- It is also important to keep intersectionality in mind when interacting with fellow students. From the perspective of intersectionality, we are all both members of ingroups and outgroups, depending on which social identities are being discussed. Thus, the old maxim of “treat others the way you want to be treated” is appropriate when interacting across differences.
- Do not rely on your fellow students as the single source of all your diversity questions and education. Take responsibility for your own education by reading, researching, and talking to experts in the field.
For additional information on or help and support in practicing the guidelines above, contact the RVU Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at 720-875-2825
Note: Individual program policies may differ from University policies. Please review policies listed under the specific programs.
The Office of Student Affairs must approve all extracurricular activities by University-recognized associations, clubs, or organizations (ACO), both on- and off-campus. Events that involve healthcare/outreach, alcohol, or risky activities must also obtain permission from the Dean and/or other University officials. All activities and events that involve students, faculty, or staff of the University must be appropriately scheduled to avoid conflicts with academic requirements and other professional events. Requests for permission for speakers, student meetings or activities, and other individual or group activities on campus should be made on forms provided by the Office of Student Affairs at least three weeks in advance. The Office of Student Affairs must approve all activities in advance and no meeting announcements may be made until such approval is received.
Students may initiate the development of an association, club, or organization on the University campus by first approaching the Director of Student Life for a consultation. Students will then be required to submit a charter with a mission statement and a copy of the group’s constitution or bylaws to the Office of Student Affairs. Each association, club, or organization must have a faculty sponsor approved by the Office of Student Affairs. The ACO will be considered active once SGA, the Director of Student Life, and the Associate/Assistant Dean of Student Affairs approve the completed application. A variety of associations, clubs, and organizations are available on campus. Please contact the Office of Student Affairs for a complete listing of ACOs.