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Student Group Honored for Community Service and Leadership

AMA-MSS executive board.

Executive board of the award-winning UB Chapter of the American Medical Association Medical Student Section. Back row, from left: Travis Blood, Kiu Ghadjar, Gaurav Rao, Paul Dejac, Josh Hauser. Front row, from left: Brooke Meade, Jessica Aliotta, Chantal Bartels, Joanna Lim.

Published March 28, 2011

The UB Chapter of the American Medical Association Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS) has received two statewide awards: Chapter of the Year Award and Recruitment Award.

“One of our primary goals this year was to encourage our members to remain active in community service.”
Joanna Lim, Class of 2013
Co-president, AMA-MSS Chapter at UB

The honors were announced at the March 12 meeting of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY).

The AMA-MSS is the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the country, according to its website. Its members are dedicated to representing medical students, improving medical education, developing leadership and promoting activism for the health of America.

Co-presidents for the AMA-MSS Chapter at UB are Joanna Lim and Gaurav Rao. Faculty advisor is Nancy Nielsen, MD, PhD, a past president of the American Medical Association (AMA).

“One of our primary goals this year was to encourage our members to remain active in community service and to educate them about the various leadership opportunities available to them within the AMA, MSSNY and the Medical Society of Erie County,” says Lim. “We also wanted to assure that our school remained first in membership recruitment statewide.

“These awards reflect the accomplishments of our members and the hard work of everyone involved in organizing and leading the many successful events our group hosted this year,” she adds.

Notable Accomplishments

Highlights of events and initiatives sponsored by the UB Chapter of the AMA-MSS this year:

Student-Written Resolution Adopted as AMA Policy

Angela Sandell, Class of 2013, and Dan Donovan, Class of 2012, wrote a resolution to decrease the price disparity between healthy and unhealthy foods. The resolution was adopted as AMA policy and is currently being lobbied for in Washington, DC. “This is the first time that a resolution generated by our school was passed by the AMA,” says Lim, “which is a huge win for Buffalo.”

Appointed to AMA-MSS Minority Issues Committee

Vanessa Sarfoh, Class of 2013, was appointed a member of the AMA-MSS’s Minority Issues Committee. She and Lim worked together to host Doctors Back to School, an AMA-initiative (co-hosted by UB SNMA) that encourages minority high school students’ interest in the field of medicine. Sarfoh also received funding from the AMA Foundation to start a health initiative at UB’s Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic that addresses the obesity problem in Buffalo’s minority population.

Stethoscope Drive for Worldscopes

The chapter also recently started a stethoscope drive for Worldscopes, a global philanthropic initiative of the AMA Foundation, the goal of which is to collect new and gently used stethoscopes for redistribution to those in need. In an effort to encourage the involvement of first-year students, Lim appointed Linda Wong to serve as project lead for this drive and asked the incoming chapter co-president, Ed Hoefler, Class of 2014, to assist Wong.

“They recently partnered with Bensons Surgical Supply to give health professionals in the area an incentive to donate used stethoscopes by providing them with a tax deduction and a discount towards buying a new stethoscope,” reports Lim, who explains that the collection is also being supported by the Medical Society of the County of Erie.

Halloween Party for Kids with Diabetes

In October, over 20 chapter members volunteered for the group’s annual Halloween Party for Kids with Diabetes, where children and their families can enjoy Halloween with healthy foods, games and prizes. The chapter’s vice presidents of community service obtained over $700 in sponsorship support for the event.

Raising Awareness for Healthier Living

Jessica Aliotta and Gaurav Rao, both Class of 2013, and Jennifer Cheung, Class of 2012, worked with Lim to organize a 40-mile bike ride to raise awareness for living a healthier lifestyle and to raise money for Sprouts, a new health and wellness group at the medical school. Twenty-three medical students participated, and the chapter raised $550 for Sprouts. Members also participated in the local Breast Cancer Walk and raised $500.

Recruitment Award

The Recruitment Award recognizes that the UB Chapter recruited more students from its first-year class than any other chapter in New York State. “Our chapter has consistently been first in this category,” says Lim. “On average, we recruit over 75 percent of our students to join the medical student section of the AMA, MSSNY and Medical Society of Erie County.” Paul Dejac, Class of 2013, acted as the chapter’s vice president of recruitment and membership this past year.

Student Leaders

Another mark of the UB chapter’s success is that five of its members hold leadership positions at the state and national levels of the AMA-MSS and -MSSNY-MSS, as follow:

  • Christopher CJ Cancino
    Task Force Chair for Membership and Recruitment in New York State MSSNY-MSS

A Chapter with a Future

In looking ahead, chapter leaders hope to continue their success and to place as one of the top chapters nationally when the rankings are announced this summer in Chicago at the annual meeting of the AMA.

Joining Ed Hoefler as co-president for the 2011-2012 school year, is Krishnan Chakravarthy, MD, PhD, candidate.

Not a group to sit on its laurels, the UB Chapter of the AMA-MSS is already planning a new initiative: a fundraiser for the Family Justice Center in Buffalo.