"Be worthy to Serve the Suffering" Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Key Background

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2012 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Award winners

Alpha Omega Alpha is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. Leadership is about making a positive difference, and is learned through education, observation, and experience, and working with leader mentors. Service leadership may develop an excellent opportunity for students to develop as servant leaders. The most effective leaders are well grounded in and committed to positive professional values.

AΩA developed this award to support leadership development for medical students through mentoring, observation, and service learning.

Amount of the award: $5000 for the first year, $3000 for the second year, $1000 for the third year

The winners of this year's award are:

  • Salina Bakshi, Catherine Bigelow, Jonathan Giftos, Marie Hennelley, Andrea Jakubowski, Aisha James, with mentors Yasmin Meah, MD, Holly Atkinson, MD, Natasha Anandaraja Wagner, MD, Ann-Gel Palermo, Phil Landrigan, MD, Jon Ripp, MD, Ramin Asgary, MD, Angela Diaz, MD, and Theresa Soriano, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine for the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Human Rights and Social Justice Scholars Program (Read more)

  • Michael Gao, Sarah Akkina, Elizabeth Haworth-Hoeppner, Alexa Lindley, Justin Conway, Andrew Chao, and Alissa Briggs, with mentors Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH, Lawrence An, MD, and Joel Howell, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan Medical School for AffordCare, Mapping the Road between Uninsured Patients and the Clinics that Serve Them (Read more)

  • Ravi Patel, Neil Issar, and Emily Zern, with mentors Michael J. Fowler, MD, and Robert Miller, MD, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine for The Nashville Mobile Market Nutrition Education Initiative (Read more)

  • Bridget Spelke, Joelle Rosser, Berendena Vandertuig, Shruthi Rereddy, Zoe Julian, Ashley Martinez, and Leah Machen, with mentors Lisa Flowers, MD, Ira Horowitz, MD, Martina Badell, MD, and Gary Teal, of Emory University School of Medicine for the Harriet Tubman Women’s Clinic (Read more)

  • Sandra Valenciano, Kristin Schwarz, and Jared Walsh, with mentors Colin Sox, MD, Barry Zuckerman, MD, and Joel Alpert, MD, of Boston University School of Medicine for the Child Health and Advocacy Project (Read more)

The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Human Rights and Social Justice Scholars Program

The HRSJ Scholars Program is a multidisciplinary effort implemented for the first time in the academic year 2011-2012 by second-year medical students that offers 10-12 first-year students a comprehensive, credit-based curriculum in health equity, human rights, and social justice in five areas: coursework, mentorship, research, service, and career exploration. Under faculty advisors Holly Atkinson, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine; Yasmin Meah, MD, Assistant Professor of Medical Education and Medicine; Anu Anandaraja, MD, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics and Medical Education; and Ann-Gel Palermo, PhD, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics and Medical Education, the HRSJ Scholars Program aims to train students to push the paradigms of translational research and medicine into global and community advocacy, policy, and action. The program is now a joint collaboration between the Medical Education Department, the Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, the Global Health Center, and the Physicians for Human Rights student chapter.

In addition to their service work, HRSJ students are paired with a faculty mentor who works with the student throughout the year to identify or create a social justice research project that may involve working with a local community group or participating in an overseas global health program. Career and academic advice and human rights-based shadowing opportunities from their mentor as well as lectures from physicians who focus on social justice issues, help students learn the steps required to build a career focusing on social justice.

2011 to 2012 HRSJ Scholars

The second-year medical students at Mount Sinai who administered the program and have received this award are Salina Bakshi, Marie Oliva Hennelly, Andrea Jakubowski, and Aisha James, and fourth year students Catherine Bigelow, and Jonathan Giftos. These students also lead the student chapter of Physicians for Human Rights. Upon completion of this school year, four first year scholars who participated will then take over the administration of the program and review applications from new first-year students.

AffordCare, Mapping the Road between Uninsured Patients and the Clinics that Serve Them

Student creators of AffordCare: Sarah Akkina, Liz Haworth-Hoeppner, and Michael Gao

Affordcare is an organization geared towards connecting millions of uninsured Americans with the free and sliding-scale clinics that serve them. To do this, we are creating a Google Maps-like website that lists all free and sliding-scale clinics within close proximity to any location in the United States. We envision a patient or referring clinician entering his or her address and, within seconds, viewing a list of nearby clinics with names, location, contact information, hours of operation, services, and other key details. The site will also serve as a repository for additional resources including a searchable $4 medications list and links to medical education videos and pamphlets. The creation of this resource is being led by students from the University of Michigan Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Social Work.

The Nashville Mobile Market Nutrition Education Initiative

The Nashville Mobile Market (NMM) is a social enterprise venture that works to provide access to healthy, affordable groceries in Nashville’s food deserts to help address the growing obesity epidemic. NMM currently operates in the food desert communities in Nashville, TN. The goal of NMM is to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables, along with facilitating other healthy diet decisions, by improving the availability of healthy options and thereby decreasing the incidence of diet-related chronic conditions.

Founded in March 2010 by Ravi Patel, a medical student at Vanderbilt University, NMM is a result of cooperation and collaboration among numerous Nashville community and educational institutions. Initially, faced with patient complaints regarding a lack of healthy food options, the Shade Tree Clinic, Vanderbilt University’s student-run free clinic, began investigating the possibility of attracting a profitable grocery store option to the East Nashville community. However, due to a lack of market share, another option was needed.

Since then, NMM developed a business plan, gathered funding, and began operations in February 2011. The Nashville Mobile Market’s Nutrition Education Initiative will now be implemented as a key component of the larger program with the generous funding of Alpha Omega Alpha. Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine will host the education initiative to implement teaching kitchens throughout the areas served by The Nashville Mobile Market. As part of the college advisory system at VUSM, students will serve the community in partnership with the social enterprise. This program will help The Nashville Mobile Market completely address the market failures surrounding food access through direct initiatives to address physical, financial, and educational barriers to healthful eating.

The Harriet Tubman Women's Clinic

Presenting their educational model at the Student Run Clinic Conference,
Leah Machen (current clinic coordinator) and Joelle Rosser (clinic co-founder)

The Harriet Tubman Women’s Clinic (HTWC) is a student-run clinic operating out of Open Door Community, an intentional community dedicated to serving homeless peoples in Atlanta. Founded in 2010 by two first-year Emory medical students, the HTWC started with only a mission: to provide free patient-centered reproductive health services to underserved women in Atlanta while simultaneously providing medical students with early, hands-on experience in reproductive health. Today, through invaluable relationships with faculty, administrators, and community members, our one-room clinic has the capacity to diagnose and treat common STIs, provide basic contraceptive options, and perform vital preventive health screens, and well-woman exams. First-year students at Emory are introduced to reproductive health in the first months of medical school by attending Women’s Health Training Day, a full-day clinical skills training organized by senior students. Incredibly popular, this event is now an annual tradition, with over one-third of the incoming M1 class developing skills in sensitive sexual history taking, recognition of STIs, ultrasonography, pelvic exams and family planning counseling. Students who wish to become more involved then have the opportunity to volunteer at the bimonthly clinic or become a clinic coordinator.

First year medical students learning how to perform a pelvic exam

With the support of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Student Service Leadership Project Award, the HTWC is excited to expand both clinic services and student leadership training over the next three years. In keeping with its commitment to providing patient-centered care, the clinic aims to expand services and availability, providing patients with more reliable, comprehensive care, including HIV testing and an expansion of our contraceptive options. A central element of the expansion is also dedicated to developing student-physician leaders committed to HTWC’s dual mission. Through workshops at the Woodruff Leadership Academy, peer-directed continuing education sessions, and post-clinic debriefs, the HTWC aims to transform clinic coordinators into informed student leaders who advocate for their patients and continue to help educate their peers. An advisory board composed of faculty mentors, community partners, and senior students is also being created to guide the development of clinical and educational activities and provide further opportunities for student leadership. Through the commitment of a strong team of individuals and the AΩA Medical Student Service Leadership Project Award, the Harriet Tubman Women’s Clinic is creating an important opportunity for medical students to become engaged in service and leadership.

Child Health and Advocacy Project

CHAP leaders and participants Kristin Schwarz, Nahiris Bahamon,
Sandra Valenciano, Kathleen Leahy, and Jared Walsh

The Child Health and Advocacy Project (CHAP) at Boston University School of Medicine is a student-run program that provides summer service-learning opportunities for rising second-year students who are interested in pediatrics and urban advocacy. The goals and objectives of the Child Health and Advocacy Project include helping students develop a better understanding of the health care needs of urban underserved populations and teaching them how to advocate for their pediatric patients. BUSM students devote their time and effort to community groups and patients, while the program provides students with the opportunity to learn 'hands-on," as well as develop the leadership skills necessary to advocate for their patients. The concept of the Child Health and Advocacy Project ensures that the benefits of the program flow bi-directionally—to the students and the community. CHAP participants have the opportunity to address local health care needs through a variety of programs ranging from childhood obesity to adolescent asthma, but they also have the opportunity to create their own project based on their child health and advocacy interests. Participants work closely with student leaders and project mentors to establish their project goals and objectives and receive guidance throughout the summer. Additionally, participants lead and attend didactic discussion sessions on their project and a pertinent aspect of urban health with pediatrics faculty and students. In the fall semester, project participants present their summer experiences in an oral presentation at the CHAP Fall Symposium, which gives students a chance to reflect on their roles as caregivers, leaders, and the role that advocacy can play in urban pediatric communities. The fundamental goal of the Child Health and Advocacy Project is to produce humanistic, socially responsible physician-leaders who grasp the many factors that affect health in urban communities. CHAP's goals and objectives are not exclusive to students interested in pediatrics, as strong communication and leadership skills, a commitment to the community, and a better understanding of the cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors of health relates to all medical specialties.

Updated on February 27, 2013.