American Medical Association (AMA)
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed learning about politics but wanted to pursue a career in science. As a student member of the American Medical Association (AMA), I can do both. I was able to attend the interim Medical Student Section (MSS) conference in November immediately after the election. Many students brought up formal concerns about the state of health care in this country, and other controversial resolutions were discussed by the AMA-MSS. Some student resolutions are adopted in the AMA House of Delegates and are then lobbied for in Washington, D.C. Additionally, there are great membership benefits, even if you aren’t interested in policy!
— Maren Loe, M1
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)
The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) strives to promote women in medicine and raise awareness for issues that women face in their medical training and future careers. AMWA activities include mentorship with female faculty members, lunch talks, community service outings, awareness weeks and the annual Red Dress Affair, which takes place in the winter and is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. The event includes a silent auction, a boy band competition, and a casino night! AMWA has been a fantastic way to build professional networks and create community here at WUSM.
— Kate Gerull, M1
Through CHOICES (Choosing Healthy Options in our Community, Environment, and Schools), I have had the opportunity to discuss safe-sex practices with young men in juvenile detention. Though safe sex is only one of many useful topics tackled by CHOICES, I have already had the chance to see why this program is so important: as we were illustrating how to put a condom on a banana, the 16-year-old sitting next to me leaned over to say that he wished he had known this earlier because he had a one-month-old daughter at home. That same day, another young man was surprised to learn that earwax could not be used to test for STDs. If you are remotely interested in public health or correctional medicine, or if you just like knowing that you are making a very practical difference in people’s lives, consider joining CHOICES.
— Bianca Vannucci, M1
I heard about the Culinary Medicine group from a previous Dis-O Guide (I think), and it was a big motivator for me to come to Wash U, so now I’ll try to return the favor. I am passionate about nutrition and its importance in preempting disease, and the administration at Wash U provides tons of cooking gear and a nice budget so that we can give interactive classes on healthy cooking. We partner with Kingdom House, a charity organization which is frequented by some really awesome, hardworking people who just don’t have much education about fiscally and nutritionally responsible grocery shopping and food preparation. I worked with adults and was blown away by the attendance and enthusiasm. Other members of the class have had a similar experience teaching middle-schoolers. Teaching the class was also a great way to bond with my co-leaders, including a Spanish translator from my class. (Trust me, if you’re working with the adults, you need someone who speaks Spanish.) All in all, it’s a super fulfilling program that also sharpens your cooking and communicating skills!
— Andrew Simmerman, M1
Forum for International Health and Tropical Medicine (FIHTM)
Forum for International Health and Tropical Medicine (FIHTM) is a long-standing organization at Wash U with the goal of increasing interest in and providing support for global health initiatives. Through FIHTM, students can go abroad during the summer after their first year and/or do a one-month international rotation in their fourth year. In addition, there are student-run spring break trips to the Navajo nation and Latin American countries where you can learn about health care in other cultures while also enjoying a trip with your amazing classmates! FIHTM also brings in WUSM faculty to speak about their experiences working abroad, including many major names in global health.
— Kate Douglas, M1
Medical Student Government (MSG)
Medical Student Government (MSG) is made up of elected student representatives from each class and from the MSTP cohort whose primary function is to represent their classmates and their interests to the university community, the faculty and administration, and to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Your MSG is involved in curricular decision-making, including WUSM’s recent transition to a fully pass-fail preclinical curriculum, in helping facilitate the formation of other student groups, and in a variety of other important processes. Being a member of MSG can be time-intensive, but it is rewarding to serve your classmates in such an important capacity.
— Katie Goodenberger, M1
Sling Health (formerly known as IDEA Labs)
As medical students at WUSM, we are surrounded by some of the greatest physicians and scientists in the world, people who are working on fascinating research and clinical problems. Sling Health (formerly known as IDEA Labs) is an incubator for biomedical startups built by Wash U students. Think Y Combinator — just in St. Louis and devoted specifically to helping students from all around our university turn their ideas into products and companies that solve real-world medical problems. It all starts with Problem Day in the fall, where project leaders get a chance to pitch their interests and ideas to potential team members. From here, team selection involves talking with people to see which team and project is right for you. Throughout the year, you get the opportunity to receive advice from incredible physicians, scientists and entrepreneurs. Finally, you will get the chance to present your product to potential investors at Demo Day in the spring. If you are passionate about solving medical problems, there is no better environment in which to pursue innovation.
— Yan-Yang Feng, M1
For those who love to sing (be it in the privacy of your own shower or when spontaneously belting out Queen B in public), fear not. WUSM has its very own a capella group, better known as the Histones! If you are looking to get your “sang on” in a low-stress, supportive environment, then you should definitely check the group out. Histones is welcoming to everyone, from those who have no musical experience to those of you who are absurdly musically gifted. As a group, Histones practices musical pieces from a variety of genres, so there’s something for everyone. The group meets once a week and even has a few performances throughout the year. Histones is made up of students from the MD, PT, OT and PhD programs, which is a great chance to interact with other students in the greater WUSM community. There are no tryouts; so come get your aca-awesome on!
— Greg Wong, M1
Do you love to sing? Dance? Have fun? If you answered yes to any of those questions, the musical is your calling. Each year, Washington University puts on the MedMusical, a collaborative effort among students in the medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy programs and the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. It’s a great way to meet people outside of the medical school. This year’s musical is Beauty and the Beast, and the best part is that EVERYONE who auditions is cast. Whether you are a professional opera singer or a shower singer like me, the musical is a guaranteed fun time with a completely manageable schedule. And if you’ve never been in a musical, this is the perfect chance to dive in and be a star!
— Shahroz Fatima, M1
NICU Cuddle Babies
As one mother warned me, the most challenging aspect about volunteering as a cuddler in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is not falling asleep with a warm, cute baby in your arms! During each two-hour shift, I get to feel like I’m on call in the NICU (carrying the cuddler phone). However, when I get called to a baby, it’s not to make decisions regarding medical care (not yet, at least); it’s to use the skills we’ve learned about supporting proper infant development to rock and hold the babies. Cuddling is a great way to de-stress from school while making a difference!
— Peppar Cyr, M1
Pediatric Lifesavers empowers parents to save their baby’s life. Every Tuesday and Thursday, medical students head over to St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) to teach infant CPR. We teach classes for parents and grandparents of babies under one year old who are being treated at SLCH. They learn how to do “pushes” and breaths and how to handle choking. By the end of the one-hour class they have seen what they need to do, practiced it several times with our (somewhat robotic-looking) mannequins and hopefully are prepared to use what they’ve learned. That’s what makes teaching Pediatric Lifesavers a meaningful activity.
— Peppar Cyr, M1
Schnucks Health Screenings
In between clinical mentoring sessions and the inevitably awkward viewings of your Standardized Patient encounters, you will probably realize that you need as much practice interacting with patients and exercising your clinical techniques as you can get. One great way to practice these clinical skills and give back to the St. Louis community at the same time is to participate in Schnucks health screenings! Each Saturday we set up in one of three Schnucks grocery store locations in St. Louis and offer free blood pressure, blood glucose and BMI tests to shoppers. We offer suggestions for diet and wellness and provide contact and location info for clinics and federally qualified health centers where people can find necessary health care services. Each week is productive (we see between 30 and 50 patients!), interesting and low-stress, so join us and watch your blood-pressure-taking skills and ability to navigate uncomfortable interactions improve!
— Ioana Florea, M1
Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic
The root of why most of us chose to go into medicine is to help those who cannot help themselves. The Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic (SNHC) is a unique opportunity to work toward this goal as early as first year. It is a free clinic run by Washington University students and physicians and aims to provide health care services to those who lack health insurance. As a current coordinator of this clinic, I truly feel that this has been one of my most rewarding medical school experiences. Volunteering at the SNHC serves as a constant reminder of what our future holds and reinvigorates me to push through the challenges of medical school. If you wish to be a coordinator as well as a volunteer, I highly recommend enrolling in the selective that places you once a week during the fall. Beyond learning about how to run a free clinic, we delve into topics of health insurance and interprofessional care that apply to medicine no matter where or what you plan to practice.
— Shahroz Fatima, M1
The Student National Medical Association
The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is a national student-run organization that is committed to supporting underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians. Community service is the heart and soul of the SNMA, so it’s not surprising that the WUSM chapter provides many ways to get involved. Initiatives include regular health screenings at Schnucks grocery stores; the HPREP Program, which exposes high-school students to careers in the health professions; and mentorship programs with high-schoolers at the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience and undergraduates through our relationship with Minority Association of Pre-med Students. The SNMA also provides opportunities to get involved on a regional and national level through its annual conferences. If you’re interested in diversity awareness and community service, you should definitely get involved in the SNMA.
— Amal Taylor, M1
Latino Medical Student Association
In just the first three months of this year, the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and attended the Hispanic Heritage Festival, shared delicious Latin food at a potluck with residents, and ate way too many pastries at meetings. It’s not all fun and food, though; we do doctor stuff too! We’re a young organization at WUSM, but we’re already getting involved with community organizations to ameliorate Latino health disparities on a local and national level, attending regional and national conferences, and organizing and participating in health fairs and screenings directed toward the Latino population. Our Education Committee is working hard this year to build the school’s medical Spanish program to include greater depth and duration of study for different levels, standardized patient sessions conducted in Spanish, clinical rotations in Spanish-language hospitals and a certification process to work in the hospital in Spanish. Non-Latinos are welcome, too, even if you’re only in it for the fun and food!
— Jenny Tobat, M2
Do you love to flow through vinyasas? Hold warrior II pose? Relax in sevasena? Whether you are already doing headstands or just curious about starting a yoga practice, Yoga Club is the place for you. Every week, we host hour-long yoga classes taught by a variety of professional instructors. All classes are held on campus next to the study carrels, so they are the perfect break after a long day in anatomy lab. Best of all, the membership fee is only $20 per year (less than a single yoga class at some studios!). In my personal experience, yoga is a “high yield” stress reliever. It is a chance to flow, sweat, relax, breathe and just say “ommmmm.”
— Rebecca Brenner, M1
Young Scientist Program (YSP)
Are you interested in science education, community outreach, or just doing fun science demonstrations? Consider joining YSP! Founded in 1991 by two WUSM Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) students, YSP aims to get young people from disadvantaged backgrounds excited about careers in STEM. Through visits to local schools and demonstrations at the science center or the medical school, YSP provides a hands-on curriculum to increase science literacy among local middle- and high-school students. YSP also offers the opportunity to mentor local high-school students, following them from freshman year and ultimately helping them apply to college.
— Luke Diorio-Toth, M1