Student Leadership and Participation in Programs and Activities

Student Participation and Leadership
Students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular programs or activities. They should be advised of the commitment required in order to be certain that participation does not interfere with satisfactory progress in academic course work and/or meeting other required obligations. Participation in student interest groups and national medical education organizations enables students to learn about and be involved in policy setting discussion related to medical education and other relevant areas affecting residents and practicing physicians. 

Students in good academic standing have many opportunities to contribute to medical education, including but not limited to the following: 

Admissions Tour Guides
Students can provide tours for prospective applicants during the admissions season. Application to become a tour guide occurs annually during the summer before the next interview season. Students must be available to lead a minimum of 1-3 tours per month. All students, regardless of their site or year, are welcome to apply. For more information, students should contact the Admissions Office via email, 

Medical Student Association
The Medical Student Association (MSA) is an elected body of student representatives from all years and all WWAMI sites that serves as the primary liaison between the student body and the School of Medicine administration and faculty. The MSA is considered the “umbrella” organization for student activities and organizations to which the Academic Affairs Office turns for student input on educational issues and concerns that arise throughout the year. Serving as an MSA class representative provides unique opportunities not only to interact with students from other classes but also with the deans and administrative directors. The MSA is responsible for developing educational and community initiatives, overseeing student activities and subsidizing student organizations, planning social events, and addressing student concerns with the administration, among other things. MSA representatives are selected at each site during the fall of students’ first year, and appointment extends throughout the student’s tenure in medical school as long as the student remains in good academic standing. For more information, students can review the MSA website or contact the MSA directly via email,

School of Medicine Committees
Students in good standing may apply for appointment to a University of Washington School of Medicine committee, including but not limited to committees related to the curriculum, admissions, learning environment; and various ad hoc committees that may be appointed to focus on a specific educational program, professionalism, or current student or school issue. Committees comprised of deans, faculty, administrative staff, and students run concurrently each year. Application and appointment to these committees occur annually throughout the year as applicable to the specific committee. Students are notified of these opportunities via email.  

Wellness Council
The UWSOM Wellness Council is a student-directed group that offers information, supports initiatives, promotes events, and creates opportunities around activities that foster balance in students’ lives and enrich their mental, physical, and social well-being. The Wellness Council serves as the primary liaison between the student body and the School of Medicine counselors and administration for wellness issues. Wellness Council representatives are selected at each site during the fall of students’ first year, and appointment extends throughout the student’s tenure in medical school as long as the student remains in good academic standing. For more information, students can review the Wellness Council website or contact the Student Affairs office via email, 

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) is a national honor medical society whose purpose is to recognize and perpetuate excellence in the medical profession by promoting scholarship and research in medical school, encouraging high standards and conduct, and recognizing high attainment in medical science, practice, and related fields. Per national guidelines, the total number of students that can be elected from a class may not exceed sixteen percent (16%) of the number graduating. For more information, students can review the UW AOA website and the national AOA website, or contact the AOA staff coordinator directly via email,

Gold Humanism Honor Society
The Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is a national honor medical society whose purpose is to recognize individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care and who can serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. The society’s goals are to promote humanism and patient-centered care throughout the medical profession. The School of Medicine has a GHHS chapter, which consists of faculty, resident and student members. Student members are elected during the last two years of medical school. Students elected into GHHS are those who, in the judgment of their peers and the local chapter, have demonstrated excellence in humanistic clinical care, leadership, compassion, and dedication to service. By national guidelines, the total number of students that can be elected from a class may not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the number graduating. For more information, students should refer to the national GHHS site, or contact the GHHS staff coordinator directly via email,

Service Learning
The University of Washington School of Medicine values medical student participation in extracurricular community service projects that provide medical care, health education, and other health-related activities, particularly those that address the health needs of the underserved. Service learning and advocacy projects are structured learning experiences that respond to community-identified concerns. These projects integrate service to the community with academic coursework and opportunities for reflection. Students engaged in service learning learn about the context in which service is provided as well as their roles as citizens and professionals.

Guidelines are in place for the approval and operation of community service projects involving University of Washington School of Medicine students in order to: promote student-initiated service learning opportunities; ensure such projects are aligned with the UWSOM’s mission; ensure an appropriate availability of service learning opportunities to satisfy the LCME accreditation requirements; provide consistency of oversight; ensure the safety of participants; and minimize risk of liability for students and the university. Students interested in service learning projects should be in good standing and eligible to participate.

More information about current service learning and advocacy projects as well as the process for establishing new projects can be found on the Service-Learning and Advocacy Canvas page. Students may also contact Dana Nakashima, the Service Learning Program Coordinator, at

Student Interest Groups and Organizations
There are several student interest groups and regional and national organizations in which all School of Medicine students are invited to participate. Group membership, leadership elections, and events vary by organization. More information about the student interest groups and organizations currently available to students and information about the process for establishing new student interest groups are available on the UW Student Organizations website.  

Establishing University of Washington School of Medicine Officially Recognized Student Groups
Before a student group can be officially recognized and use campus facilities, members are required to apply for recognition as an officially sponsored student group of the University of Washington School of Medicine. An outline of the structure of the organization including names of officers, bylaws, purpose, any affiliation with a national organization, and commitment by the organization to abide by laws and institutional policies must be submitted to the associate dean of student affairs, along with a letter of request to receive official status. Once submitted, the request is forwarded to the Medical Student Association for approval and then to the university’s Student Activities Office (SAO) for registration of the organization on the website. The new group’s leadership is required to attend an orientation session provided by the SAO. Once that has been completed, the new student group is eligible to receive special services and benefits provided by the SAO. 

Student Conference Travel Support
The University of Washington School of Medicine encourages students in good standing to submit their academic or service accomplishments for consideration for presentation at regional or national conferences or research forums and to assume leadership roles in medical education, research, and specialty organizations. To support students, the school should maintain a travel fund for those who are selected to present papers or projects through a competitive selection process and for those who are elected to leadership roles in one of the regional or national medical education organizations. Presentations must not conflict with scheduled examinations. 

Western Student Medical Research Forum
The Western Student Medical Research Forum (WSMRF) offers students the opportunity to present their clinical or basic investigative research. Students must be enrolled in winter quarter and in good academic standing to submit abstracts of their research work for consideration. Abstracts will be reviewed internally for quality of work and approved for submission of an application. Students who are on academic probation are not eligible for this opportunity. Reimbursements for students attending this meeting are handled by the Academic Affairs office. Questions regarding WSMRF can be directed to the Curriculum Office at or (206) 543-5562. 

Non-Clinical Electives
During the Foundations Phase, students may take additional elective coursework that is relevant to medical education through the University of Washington that does not involve direct patient care, in order to enhance their personal medical education. All UW non-clinical electives run on the main university’s quarterly academic calendar, and the dates may not correspond with other courses in the School of Medicine. If taken, non-clinical electives may not be taken during Foundations class hours and all non-clinical electives must be completed prior to entering the clinical curriculum. The credits earned from non-clinical electives are not approved for MD graduation credit although the credits show on the student’s transcript.