Published March 29, 2023
Forty medical students, two residents, two faculty members and one fellow have joined the University at Buffalo’s chapter of the national honor medical society Alpha Omega Alpha.
The inductions took place during a ceremony on March 16 at the M&T Auditorium in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building.
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, addressed the inductees.
“Election into the society encompasses a lasting commitment to scholarship, leadership, professionalism, service, dedication to the profession and a history of healing,” Brashear said.
She mentioned that the late Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, was a member of AOA, and that Anthony Fauci, who advised seven presidents on HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other domestic and global health issues, is also an AOA member.
“So, for those of you being inducted today, you have big shoes to fill,” Brashear said. “Being inducted into AOA is indeed an honor, and many, many future leaders come out of this society.”
Nicholas J. Silvestri, MD, clinical associate professor of neurology, associate dean for student and academic affairs and president of the local AOA chapter, was master of ceremonies for the event.
“Alpha Omega Alpha is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a physician in academic medicine. You’re all to be congratulated,” Silvestri said.
He also told of the founding of AOA in 1902 by physician William Root, a native of Niagara Falls.
In preparation for the event, Silvestri asked each inductee for three pieces of information: their hometown, the field they are entering, and what they are most proud of in medical school.
After their introductions, he had the inductees sign the hallowed membership book.
“This membership book has been in play for almost a hundred years. The first signatures are in there from 1925 (a year after the chapter’s founding),” Silvestri said.
The inductees are:
The distinguished lecturer, David M. Holmes, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and director of global health education, gave an address titled “Underserved Medicine — Globally and Locally.”
Holmes kicked off his lecture with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — “Of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.”
“It’s sad that Dr. King said this almost 60 years ago, and it’s still true today,” Holmes said.
That is true in the U.S., as well as internationally.
He showed a photograph from a village in Appalachia in which a long line of residents showed up for a free clinic.
“Most of the residents in this Appalachian community are uninsured or underinsured. For many, this weekend free clinic is the only medical care they receive each year,” Holmes said. “This is a classic example of health care disparity.”
The clinics are a welcome sight for those in need of care.
“It’s wonderful, but it shouldn’t be needed,” Holmes said. “Everybody should have equal access to health care.”
Holmes also leads a contingent of students to places like Haiti as part of the Global Medicine Program to allow them to gain valuable, first hand exposure to tropical medicine and different cultures that they likely would not encounter during normal rotations in the United States.
“The people are so hospitable. It helps us remember why we went to medical school in the first place,” Holmes said, in urging interested people to sign up. “And it prevents burnout.”
In addition to Silvestri, others on the chapter’s advisory committee are: