Ask medical students what is most important to them and you get similar responses — support for their education and overall well-being. That’s certainly the case for Amy Waldner, a third-year medical student at GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), who will use her new leadership role to advocate for her fellow medical students.
As of January, Waldner is the GW student representative to the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR), and she was elected as a national delegate to the OSR Administrative Board. Founded to represent medical students nationwide, the OSR ensures that students actively participate in directing their education, while working with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to improve the nation’s health. Waldner will represent students in the AAMC by providing feedback on the programs and services that are sponsored by the organization, then disseminating that information to her fellow students.
The key to success in Waldner’s new role is keeping current. “I have to stay up-to-date on everything from new recommendations for applications to residency, to away rotations, to national residency matching programs, to MCAT changes,” she said. Most importantly, her role is to stand up for students, said Waldner.
In her new position, Waldner will work closely with Scott Schroth, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for administration at SMHS and chair of the Group on Student Affairs (GSA) Steering Committee for the AAMC.
Student wellness is a major initiative that falls under the student affairs umbrella, said Schroth and Waldner. “We are trying to focus not just on emotional and mental health wellness, but also physical and spiritual wellness,” said Schroth. Waldner echoes Schroth’s desire to ensure that students’ needs beyond academics are met. “It’s my job to make sure that students know what resources are available in terms of wellness,” said Waldner.
Waldner is also learning how to advocate for herself and, most importantly, her future patients. “In a sense, patients are voiceless. You need to know how the legislative system operates, as well as the different points of entry for advocating on behalf of your patients.”