Buscar Close Search
Buscar Close Search
Page Menu

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

The University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School was granted a Chapter of the honor medical society, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) in 1996 (Delta of Massachusetts). Election to AOA is an honor in medical schools, comparable to election to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate and is the only National Medical Honor Society in the world.

Unlike other honors given out by the school at the time of graduation, election to AOA is accomplished in time to receive mention in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), which is used to evaluate graduating students applying for residency positions. AOA is an organization that performs service, as well as an honorary organization. Chapters in some schools are quite active in organizing community outreach and service programs, similar to other programs at UMass carried out by various student organizations.

Student Membership
To be eligible for election to AOA, students must be in the academic top 35% of the class. Beginning with the Class of 2021, determination of students in the upper quartile will be based on clinical grades alone, without inclusion of United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 Board scores. No grades from the first two years will be used. From among these students, up to 20% of the graduating class may then be elected to membership. Election is based not only on academic performance, but also on qualities of character, contributions to medicine and society, and the promise of future achievements in medicine through a holistic assessment of student accomplishments in the domains of leadership, advocacy and research.

The process of student election to AOA is as follows:

The names of students in the top 35% of the class are provided to the AOA selection committee by the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, in collaboration as needed with the officers of AOA (president, vice president, secretary, councilor), in alphabetical (not ranked) order. The ranking list is then disposed of and not used for any other purpose.

The AOA selection committee, which is made up of current members of AOA from the faculty and house staff, is provided with information about each eligible student’s background and participation in extracurricular activities such as research, community service, leadership and medical school student and faculty activities, through a holistic review of achievement, aligned with the principles of Alpha Omega Alpha to “Be Worthy to Serve the Suffering.” Per Alpha Omega Alpha, members are selected as follows:

“For medical students, the Dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine or his/her designee identifies a pool of candidates who approximate in number the upper quartile of the class expected to graduate, and who have excelled in the criteria for nomination to AΩA membership—scholastic achievement, professionalism, leadership, community service, and research. Scholastic achievement refers to the qualities of becoming, and being, an excellent doctor—trustworthiness, character, caring, knowledge, skills, demeanor, proficiency of the doctor-patient relationship, promise of future leadership, decision-making, compassion, empathy, altruism, values of the profession, teamwork, life-long learning, and servant leadership.”

 Election of new members is accomplished by vote of the AOA selection committee, after careful review based on this information and personal knowledge.

Faculty, Alumni and House Officer election to AOA

In addition, a limited number of faculty (3), alumni (3) and house officers (4) can also be elected yearly. While national criteria also allow election of a limited number of students during their junior (third) year, UMass Chan currently only elects students during the summer or early Fall preceding their graduating year.

The process of Alumni, Faculty and House-Staff election to AOA

Up to three alumni members may be chosen by ballot from a list of UMass Chan graduates who have graduated at least 10 years previously, have made significant contributions to medicine, science and/or the community, and have been nominated by AOA members. Up to three Faculty members may be also chosen by ballot from among those nominated by AOA members; and up to four house staff members may be chosen from those nominated by UMass Chan program directors.

Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award

Each year the entire graduating class has the opportunity to nominate a volunteer (non-salaried) clinical faculty member for a special award, given at the AOA Induction Ceremony prior to graduation. The nomination process is coordinated by the AOA Councilor's office. The recipient is chosen by the student members AOA Chapter.

Student Fellowships and Awards

Each year, all medical students, largely in the first three years of medical school, are eligible for several awards:

Student Research Fellowship

Proposed research projects would "focus on clinical investigation, basic laboratory research, epidemiology, social science/health services research, leadership, or professionalism." The fellowship comes with a sizable monetary award for the support of the proposed research project, as well as additional funds to travel to a meeting to present the results. Proposals should be submitted by active first- or second-year medical students to UMass Chan's Delta Chapter Councilor, per the Councilor's deadline, as the medical school may only submit one nomination to AOA. Visit AOA's Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship page for more information including eligibility, requirements, important dates and application information. In past years many UMass Chan students have successfully won these Fellowships.

Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant

Any active student or group active of students in the first three years may submit an application to the UMass Chan Delta Chapter Councilor for a service project benefiting the medical school or the community. The medical school can submit one proposal per year. Candidates selected by AOA receive a three-year grant - $5,000 the first year, $3,000 the second year, and $1,000 the third year, payable to the sponsoring instituion. Vist AOA's Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant page for more information including eligibility, requirements, important dates and application information. 

Student Essay Award

Any UMass Chan medical student may submit an essay to AOA. This is an essay on any non-technical aspect of medicine, such as medical ethics, education, philosophy, culture, science, history, etc. Winning essays will be published in the Society’s magazine, “The Pharos.” There are cash awards for first, seconed and third places. Visit AOA's Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Award page for information and important dates.

The Pharos Poetry Award

Any UMass Chan medical student may submit an poem to AOA. Per AOA, this award is "to encourage medical students to write meaningful poetry related to health or medicine." Winning poems will be published in the Society’s magazine, “The Pharos.” There are cash awards for first, seconed and third places. Visit AOA's The Pharos Poetry Award page for information and important dates.

AOA Visiting Professorship

The UMass Chan Alpha Omega Alpha Delta Chapter has the opportunity every year to invite a nationally-distinguished physician to spend one day at the medical school, give a public talk and a scientific lecture, and visit with interested students and faculty. C. Everett Koop and Judah Folkman have been AOA visiting professors at UMass. Visit AOA's Visiting Professorship page for more information.