AMSAxBoonshoft: The Power of Reaching Out

June 08, 2023

Previous posts in our series about the AMSA chapter at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine explored the chapter’s leadership structure and fundraising strategies. Now, we examine how the chapter has reached out to the community to forge partnerships that benefit students and the local community alike. 


Community Partnerships

Kaylee Larsen, MD candidate, Class of 2025, created her position as director of community outreach when she joined Boonshoft’s AMSA chapter last year as a first year. She was looking for ways to help medical students engage with the community in Dayton, Ohio, to better understand the people they’re going to be treating.

Their main partnership is with the St. Vincent de Paul women’s and children’s shelter in Dayton. When Kaylee reached out to see how AMSA could help, she learned that the shelter was hiring a paramedic and EMTs to do health screenings and preventive care, so she arranged for medical student volunteers to assist. — with the goal to help decrease the volume of 911 calls made to the shelter and to help improve community health literacy. This is the genesis of the AMSA St. Vincent de Paul Health Advocacy Program.

“Whenever I would go, I would do something different every time I went, depending on what was going on that day,” Kaylee said. “Sometimes I’d go there when they needed to call 911 immediately for someone, so you would help them until the EMTs arrive. Sometimes people would get discharged from the hospital and they’d come back with all this paperwork, and I would sit down and read it with them. … A lot of it is medication reconciliation, going through and making sure people are taking their medications the way they should be. And health screening stuff – like, someone is sick but doesn’t need to go to the hospital – so talking to them and figuring out what is going on to avoid that extra cost they would have to deal with if they went to the hospital.”


Another form of outreach is the chapter’s mentorship program, led by Esh Garg [MD Candidate, Class of 2025], and Sreya Brahmandam [MD Candidate, Class of 2025], co-directors of membership and mentorship. The program started out to help undergrad students navigate the transition to medical school, but they’ve expanded it to include gap year students and career changers. This year’s participants range from age 18 to 65 and include 120 students from 20 universities in 12 states, Esh said.

Making Time for Involvement

Whether community involvement takes the form of helping future medical students or the broader community, it can be challenging to get medical students to take time out of their busy schedules. Here are some tips from the Boonshoft chapter leaders for boosting involvement:

  • Start early! Sreya said their chapter’s e-board starts reaching out to M1s in August and September, so being involved in AMSA becomes part of their routine.
  • Help students see what they’ll get out of being involved in volunteer programs, Kaylee suggested, such as building skills, adding to their CVs, or pursuing a new interest.
  • Check in with participants regularly (while avoiding micromanagement). For the mentorship program, Esh emails mentors weekly with potential topics to discuss with mentees.

“There’s definitely a need, and if people just reach out to their local areas and are willing to sit down and have a conversation, you can create these opportunities,” Kaylee said.