March 19, 2010

Medical student groups gain national recognition

Medical student groups gain national recognition

The Vanderbilt chapters of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) have each been selected for special recognition by their associations.

Scott Rodgers, M.D., associate dean for Students at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said it is gratifying to see students' hard work recognized on a national scale.

That sentiment was echoed by Bonnie Miller, M.D., senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education.

“We are incredibly lucky to have such energetic, motivated students at Vanderbilt who are willing to use our student organizations as instruments of outreach and change,” Miller said.

The Vanderbilt AMSA members were recognized for work on Give Tennessee Kids a Chance (, a legislative initiative to identify funding sources to support programs that fight childhood obesity in Tennessee.

In a letter from AMSA national president Lauren Hughes, M.D., M.P.H, the Vanderbilt chapter was named to receive the 2010 Paul R. Wright Excellence in Medical Education Award, which was presented at the organization's annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., on March 11.

“The selection committee was impressed with the initiative the chapter has taken toward inspiring future physician leaders and providing an opportunity for medical students to get directly involved with the health policy-making process,” Hughes wrote.

Members of the Vanderbilt AMSA legislative steering committee include: Kathy Niu, campaign coordinator; Brittany Taylor, legislative coordinator; Katie Collins, policy coordinator; April Christensen, grassroots coordinator; and Mary Ellen Koran, legislative committee chair.

Several members traveled to Anaheim with current chapter president David Marcovitz to receive the award, along with a $1,000 donation to the Vanderbilt chapter.

The Vanderbilt chapter of the AMWA ( was one of 10 regional chapters recognized in the AMWA's annual national competition.

In addition, the Vanderbilt chapter received the special recognition of “Overall Most Outstanding Chapter” for community efforts to support disadvantaged women and for providing a forum for mentorship of women in the medical professions.

“Our newest initiative is set to launch with World Health Week in April and supports the Ayenda Foundation, which was founded with the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council to support Afghani girls,” said Carol Duh, chapter president.

Chapter members include Ashley Weiner, vice president; Katie Ayers and Victoria Wurster, mentoring chairs; and Rachael Chase and Catie Hawley, community outreach chairs.