Did you nerd out when you saw the new trailer for Pitch Perfect 2? Do you already have your TiVo set to record The Sing Off season five? Then you’ll find a home here at WashU medical school. With two med school campus a cappella groups, you don’t need to leave your singing behind with your college life. The Histones (co-ed) and Do No Harmony (all female) provide you the opportunity for a low time commitment singing experience. You get to escape the realm of medicine for an hour a week (if that – we weren’t kidding when we said it’s a low time commitment!) and revive your creative side. A few times a year, the med school has coffeehouse performances where you can wow your classmates with your vocal chops! And if for no other reason, you’ve got to love the bad medicine puns necessary in med school a cappella group names.
— Caroline W. & Kunal M., M1
American Medical Association (AMA)
OK, I’ll admit it: I joined the American Medical Association (AMA) because I liked the free stuff that came with it: your choice of Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards or Pathology Rapid Review, one-year subscription of JAMA to casually display on your coffee table, and a whole range of discounts that will come in handy at some point when you prepare for boards. If you do the calculation, it’s totally worth the $100. But I did eventually decide to take advantage of some the other opportunities AMA offers. Remember that AMA is a national organization. It’s a platform for you to make an impact on a greater level. For example, the AMA has two national conferences per year (an annual conference in Chicago and an interim conference in various locations). You can go as a voting or non-voting attendee, with all travel and lodging expenses covered. This year at the interim conference in Dallas, we as a medical student section voted on issues such as universal health care. If you are interested in health policy, this is the group to join!
— Chuner G., M1
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)
While it’s easy to get involved in interest groups that may be related to your future career, one organization that will always be relevant for women (and men!) working in health care is the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). AMWA is an organization dedicated to supporting women in health care and improving women’s health, and it offers many opportunities for getting involved: book clubs, interest weeks, a regional conference and community outreach. Our mentoring program matches female students and faculty members based on career and lifestyle interests. Also, AMWA puts on annual events (The Red Dress Affair and Vagina Monologues) to raise money for the American Heart Association and a local safe house, respectively. Getting involved at WUSM via AMWA is so easy – and fun! – and provides ample opportunities for socializing both inside and out of WashU. Regardless of gender, if you’re concerned about women’s health, or just wish you knew more about it, AMWA is for you.
— Liz M., M1
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)
The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) offers many opportunities to promote awareness of Asian culture and advocate for health issues faced by the Asian community. In collaboration with the St. Louis University (SLU) APAMSA chapter, we do blood pressure/glucose/BMI screenings at Asian grocery stores several times a semester (similar to Schnucks screenings), as well as free Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese health fairs, where Hepatitis B screenings are offered since it disproportionately affects the APA community. APAMSA offers a Medical Chinese class that meets once a month to help medical students adequately communicate with many Mandarin-speaking patients encountered at these grocery screenings and in the hospital. In addition to health outreach, APAMSA is the student organization that organizes the Diwali and Lunar New Year Festival shows for the medical student community, some of the biggest events of the year (but you don’t have to be in APAMSA to participate in these shows – there will always be a need for dancers!). APAMSA is a great way to get involved with the APA community, hang out with SLU med students, and share the joy of Diwali and Lunar New Year Festival with your classmates.
— Sonya L., M1
Acute Stroke Action Program (ASAP)
The Acute Stroke Action Program (ASAP) is a great opportunity to get clinical exposure in neuroscience/emergency medicine early in your first year. Essentially, for two weeks you get to carry one of the stroke team’s pagers around with you and get paged whenever a patient is en route. There are roughly four possible stroke patients that come into the emergency department every day so you get to see quite a few over the course of two weeks, even excluding times you’re busy. After throwing on a tie (or if you’re smart, a pair of scrubs), you head over to the ED where you can observe the patient’s CT scan, stroke scale assessment, and corresponding treatment. If there is time, you can even perform the NIH Stroke Scale assessment yourself. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the country at treating strokes with a mean arrival-to-tPA time of ~30 minutes. (The national goal is an hour.) The program is run through the Neuroscience Interest Group and has a few training meetings in the first month or so. After that, you are assigned your two-week period with the pager.
— Doug H., M1
For as long as I can remember, I have daydreamed about singing on stage and have practiced devoutly in the shower in preparation. I started teaching myself to play the guitar as an accompaniment, and I actually found myself a bandmate during the first couple of weeks of med school. All we needed was a stage legit enough for us to have an audience, but chill enough that our audience wouldn’t mind us being a couple of amateurs. Then, we heard from the Arts Commission about their Coffeehouse Series (held three times a year), welcoming acts of any length and style. We were joined by students from all years of med school, ranging from seasoned performers to debutants like us, and we had a great time performing for our classmates and passers-by. The audience was supportive, active and appreciative, doing away with our nervousness and making us feel like rock stars. Whether you’re a classical music maestro, an electric guitar prodigy, an a cappella veteran, just a dreamer like me, or simply someone who enjoys listening to music and cheering on your friends, I encourage you to join us at the next Coffeehouse.
— Kalyan T., M1
You do not have to celebrate Diwali in order to celebrate WashU’s take on the festival of lights. Organized by students, the show is a great example of WashU’s diversity and culture. Filled with Indian food and performances such as singing and dancing, everyone has a great time at Diwali, whether they are participating or just watching. The event is free, open to all and draws a great crowd filled with classmates and other members of the WashU community. It’s a great experience that is going to expand and grow in the coming years. So whether you want to do Bollywood, Bhangra or both, the WashU Diwali show is a great way to get involved, make some new friends and have fun!
— Manoj A., M1
Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP)
Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) brings medical workshops to local schools to teach students about the heart, lungs and brain. It is a nationwide program through the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and its focus is to encourage scientific curiosity in underprivileged and underrepresented groups in medicine. We bring real human organs for the students to handle, and they always have a blast! HPREP is a great way to get involved in the local community outside the Central West End, not to mention it’s a good anatomy review for us.
— Kristen R., M1
Institute for Healthcare Improvement
During the preclinical years of medical school, you’ll have much to learn about anatomy and physiology and it may feel overwhelming. However, as a practicing clinician, you’ll have to know much more than basic pathology and the backgrounds of microbial diseases. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) attempts to address some of these gaps. For example, medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in the last year. How do you engage a patient and their family after making a medical error? And how do you fix systemic issues contributing to errors to make sure they are never repeated? These vital lessons are not often touched upon in the standard medical school curriculum, yet they are crucial to our development as physicians. The IHI aims to prepare students for the realities of practice involving patient safety and quality improvement with a variety of educational activities, talks and workshops.
— Arjun G., M2
IDEA Labs is an organization that facilitates biomedical start-up companies. Essentially, participants choose a team and a problem in medicine to address, then get started trying to fix it by developing some sort of product. IDEA Labs itself provides each team with the legal, technological and financial resources necessary to develop a prototype and get the company off the ground. It’s important that each team has a diverse set of skills, so regardless of your background, I would definitely consider trying it out. Working in any of these fields will help develop your understanding of medicine, look great on a resume and potentially make you a lot of money!
— Sirish V., M1
Latino Medical Student Organization (LMSA)
You’ll often hear the Latino population of St Louis be described as “small, but growing.” The same applies to the Latino Medical Student Organization (LMSA). As a relatively young organization, we’re still trying to find our bearings, but we have big plans for the group! Between celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and attending national LMSA conferences (amongst other things), getting involved with LMSA is a fantastic opportunity to meet other Latinos and create a support network. Non-Latinos are welcome, too!
— Jorge Z., M1
Medical Interest Groups
Medical interests groups are great for all! Not only can they be counted on for providing lunch at least a couple days out of the week, but you can actually learn about all different fields of medicine through convenient shadowing opportunities and interesting speakers. You can commit yourself to one that aligns with your interest and share your love for a particular field with your classmates by helping organize events, or you can admit to yourself that you really have no clue what you want to do and simply take advantage of all the shadowing opportunities and lunches and dinners with little discretion. Call it “open-mindedness,” if you will.
— Julia K., M1
Medical Student Government
Representing all four classes of medical students as well as MSTPs, the Medical Student Government (MSG) mission is “the advancement of student interests and welfare to achieve excellence in academic pursuits and professional interactions.” MSG meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues relevant to our students, and it works with the administration to come up with solutions to these issues. Being an elected member of MSG is a fantastic opportunity to serve your class, work closely with faculty and administrators and learn the ins and outs of the school. MSG has provided me with amazing mentors and it’s been incredibly fun to be involved in planning events like the Class Shows!
— Jorge Z. R., M1
I certainly did not expect that med school would give me an opportunity to reignite my love for musical theater, but it certainly has done so! If you make it to Second Look Weekend (which you absolutely should), you’ll get to see the whole cast in action as we blow you away with our rendition of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (or H2$, as we affectionately call it). I was initially hesitant to audition, because it seemed like it would take up a lot of time. But, even as a chorus member who is called to rehearsal nearly every week, it has been completely manageable and a really nice break from schoolwork. It’s also been a great way to meet other students outside my class, including PhD, physical therapy, occupational therapy and other MD students. It’s really a blast and such a fun opportunity.
— Emily R., M1
Pediatric Life Savers
Pediatric Life Savers (PLS) gives medical students the opportunity to teach infant CPR classes to parents of babies in St. Louis Children’s Hospital. This experience is incredibly rewarding; the knowledge of what to do if their child ever needed CPR at home gives parents a lot of peace of mind. It’s also a great way to get comfortable finding your way around the hospital and interacting with patients’ families so that you’ll be a pro when you get to your clinical years.
— Kristen R., M1
Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic (SNHC)
The Washington University Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic (SNHC) is a free clinic for the uninsured, run by medical students and staffed by physicians from the School of Medicine. The clinic provides basic medical services to patients. Volunteering at the SNHC is a great opportunity to help the St. Louis community and also work on interview and physical exam skills for first- and second-year students. You can become even more involved as a coordinator by taking the SNHC selective!
— Derek S., M1
Students participating in Schnucks Screenings offer free health screenings at several local Schnucks grocery stores. We check community members’ blood pressure and blood glucose levels, which is a great way to put some of the skills we learn in Practice of Medicine to the test! We also encourage people to follow up with their primary care physicians and provide basic counseling on health topics such as nutrition and exercise. For those who do not have health insurance, we provide suggestions for free clinics in the area and offer to follow up with them by phone. The screenings are an excellent way to get out of the medical school bubble and get involved in the St. Louis community, and it is rewarding to know that we may be making a difference in the lives of people who may not otherwise seek out health care.
— Manuela M., M1
Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is committed to diversifying the face of medicine by supporting underrepresented minority medical students and promoting the development of culturally competent physicians. The organization is community service oriented and focuses on addressing health inequalities, serving underserved populations, and reaching out to future minority medical students. The WashU SNMA chapter is actively engaged in the St. Louis area and a majority of our initiatives center around mentorship and health outreach. SNMA affiliated programs include: Minority Association of Premedical Students (MAPS) families, Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP), Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB) mentorship, Schnucks Screenings and Culinary Medicine. Through SNMA, we also have the opportunity to interact with residents and physicians, promote diversity within the medical school, and be involved on a regional and national level by attending annual SNMA conferences. I highly recommend joining; there are so many benefits to being a member, and it’s fun!
— Elaine O., M1
Wilderness Medicine Interest Group (WMIG)
Do you like being outside? Eating s’mores? Starting fires? Pretending to break your leg while rock climbing? All this is available to you and more. Wilderness Medicine Interest Group (WMIG) hosts trips to parks and campgrounds for anyone interested (no tent-pitching experience necessary). They have all the equipment needed for a fabulous time exploring the great outdoors, so don’t worry if you left your sleeping bag at home. Because we are medical students after all, the group also holds seminars on wilderness medicine to teach basic skills for making splints, what to do after a lightning strike or a snake bite, and how to get patients back to safety. These skills are put to the test at a yearly MedWAR competition, which is an opportunity to bond with classmates, learn from more experienced students and, most of all, have fun in nature.
— Emily D., M1
Young Scientist Program (YSP)
The Young Scientist Program (YSP) offers many different ways to volunteer in the community via science education outreach. One program I’ve really enjoyed is the Continuing Mentoring program, which pairs graduate and medical students with incoming high school freshmen for a four-year, one-on-one mentoring program. I’ve gotten to know my mentee, as well her as parents and the other mentees over the last semester, and it has been a blast! We do “fun science” with them, help them with homework, or just de-stress with snacks and games. I was even able to bring my mentee to anatomy class one day. (She wants to be a surgeon.) While the program is a long-term commitment, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far. I especially recommend it to anyone interested in working with teens and helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and doctors!
— Marianne L., M1
Forum for International Health and Tropical Medicine (FIHTM)
Forum for International Health and Tropical Medicine (FIHTM) is WUSM’s international health organization. FIHTM organizes several dinner talks with faculty involved in international health and research, a larger hunger banquet, and the global health symposium. Besides these fun events, FIHTM provides funding for international experiences for students who want to go abroad to gain clinical/public health experience or complete research during the summer between first and second year. FIHTM is also involved in international electives for fourth-year students.
— Julia K., M1