I AM A LOOKING TO GO

Getting Lift-off!

January 14, 2023

The first in a series, this article shines a light on the work of the students at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine — how they revitalized their AMSA chapter to become a thriving body of students, joined together in learning and activism as an inspired community.

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The Starting Point

Three years ago, the student leaders at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine asked themselves: how might we build an AMSA chapter culture of community engagement, activism and support at a time when student engagement had waned due to the pandemic

That question led them on an eventful journey. Today, their chapter is the single most active within AMSA. We sat down with the AMSAxBSOM’s first two presidents, Annelise Silva and Adjoa Cofie to talk about what they’ve learned along the way so that other chapters can experience similar success.

Charting a Course

An institution with a strong social mission, Boonshoft School of Medicine entered into an AMSA Institutional Partnership in 2020, whereby AMSA membership is fully funded for all students on campus. This partnership grants students access to advocacy and leadership training, deep learning experiences and AMSA’s network of physicians and fellow students committed to equity in medicine. 

In other words, the potential to accomplish something audacious was there. Student leaders just needed to tap into it. The question became how?

To set the stage, the leaders collectively codified their over-arching objective: to spark engagement on campus, they would center their efforts on growth — offering fellow students hands-on learning experiences, often serving their local community, that help students build skills they otherwise may not get in medical school.

“At the heart of our multi-faceted approach was our goal: to increase membership and member engagement by introducing opportunities of growth for students and the surrounding Dayton Community,” said Annelise Silva, MD Candidate, Class of 2024 and AMSA Chapter President (Foundations 2020-2021; Clinical 2021-2022).

To inform their strategies, the student leaders turned to their fellow students (and past AMSA leaders like Isaiah Cochran MD) for some insight gathering to inform their strategies. A clear outcome surfaced: the school needed a strong framework for leadership — and a good dose of fun.

The Leadership Framework 

They set out on an ambitious quest: to design AMSA as a 4-year organization in ways that support busy student schedules. Galvanizing and organizing medical students is no small tasks for busy leaders. To that end, they worked to divide their e-board into two parts: Foundations (pre-clinical, M1s and M2s) and Clinical (M3s and M4s) to better suit the realities of day-to-day medical school rigors.

  • The Foundations Team is more dedicated to recruitment, and establishing community partnerships and engagement at our institution and in the Greater Dayton community. There are a variety of directors who each have individual responsibilities and oversee a committee tackling AMSA Pillars (core values).  
  • The Clinical Board is focused on supporting the different needs of students in clinical years, advising the Foundations board when needed. Each director has the opportunity to design or continue with a clinical project to complete over their two years. 

The Chapter Meeting Makeover

One of the biggest changes was instituting monthly chapter meetings. Their initial focus was to bring updates from the leadership to the committee members about opportunities and happenings in the organization. Being virtual during its first year, challenges in engagement beyond already active members resulted in less students attending chapter meetings once in person. 

Adjoa Cofie, MD Candidate, Class of 2025 and AMSA Chapter President (Foundations 2020-2021; Clinical 2022-2023), recalls that she wasn’t drawn to attending chapter meetings as a first-year student and began to envision what chapter meetings could be.

“I wanted to redraft our chapter meeting and make it something that when people come, they’re doing something,” she said. “It has a purpose and it’s not just the e-board telling them what’s been happening.”  She proposed a new model for all chapter meetings which consisted of highlighting social themes and local partnerships. 

Impact

With a new leadership structure and inspired monthly chapter meetings  — the Boonshoft AMSA chapter began to see an uptick in engagement immediately. Events since 2020 have seen engagement anywhere between 10-25% of their student body on average. Chapter meeting attendance has grown over 200% since the first meetings during the pandemic. 

AMSAxBSOM Halloween fun

 

Watch this space 

Stay tuned for the next post this is — we’ll be talking to a broad swath of AMSAxBSOM leaders over the course of the coming months to drill deeper into other strategies that have worked to transform their AMSA Chapter. Keep tabs via Instagram or here on ON CALL. Have questions? We’re here — members @ amsa.org.