On Friday, April 1, members of the West Virginia University School of Medicine classes of 2016 and 2017, as well as several medical residents and faculty, were inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

“Worthy to serve the suffering,” is the motto of the national honor society, and criteria for selection include scholastic excellence, as well as integrity, capacity for leadership, compassion and fairness in dealing with colleagues.

WVU’s medical students do more than just learn about how to care for patients. They put their learning into action with community service projects around the area. The West Virginia Alpha Chapter of AOA works with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Sundale Nursing Home, area schools and Scottie’s Place, a charity for homeless children based in Peterstown, West Virginia. Alpha Omega Alpha members also tutor younger medical students in practicing for upcoming clinical exams.

“The AOA motto ‘worthy to serve the suffering’ is personified in those elected to the honor society that work to achieve the ideals of scholastic excellence, integrity, leadership, compassion and fairness,” Lauren Gioia, WVU medical student and West Virginia Alpha 2016 Chapter president, said. “Our chapter serves the community through a variety of volunteering activities from making holiday cards for those in nursing homes to raising money for the underprivileged children of Appalachia.”

Alpha Omega Alpha is the only national medical school honor society and was organized by William W. Root, M.D. and five other medical students at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago, Illinois, in 1902. Eligibility requires academic rank in the top quartile of the class. Only one-sixth of a class may be elected to membership, with a maximum of one-half of this number elected in the third year of medical school.

The WVU School of Medicine supports the West Virginia Alpha chapter. This chapter was founded in 1962 as the 86th Alpha Omega Alpha chapter. It was organized to promote scholarship and research in medical schools; encourage a high standard of character and conduct among medical students and graduates; and recognize high attainment in medical science, practice, and related fields.

“The students selected as members in WVU’s Alpha Omega Alpha chapter are at the top of their class academically and are committed to being worthy to serve the suffering now and as future physicians,” Melanie Fisher, M.D., assistant dean for Continuing Medical Education, professor of Medicine and Alpha chapter councilor, said. “However, this is not an exclusive organization, and our members reach out to include many other students, faculty members and staff in organizing and conducting all of their activities.”

This year’s inductees include: Class of 2016 – Drew Burgess, Adam Domico, Nicole Garcia, Lindsey Grantham, Whitney Loggins, Christina Paluskievicz, Prashanth Sompalli. Class of 2017 – Colleen Beatty, Donald Bennett, Sarah Bowen, Luke Grome, Susan Kurian, Joseph Malone, Daniel McClelland, Darrin Nichols. Residents – Ann Murray, M.D. and Madison Humerick, M.D. Faculty – Scott Cottrell, Ed.D., Alison Wilson, M.D.

Featured speaker at this year’s ceremony was Jennifer W. McCallister, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., vice chair of Education, Department of Internal Medicine and director, Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Dr. McCallister also serves as associate professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. She is a graduate of the WVUSchool of Medicine and was elected to the AOA Honor Medical Society as a third-year medical student.

Dr. McCallister addressed inductees and their families at 4:00 p.m. at the WVU Health Sciences Center with the topic “Beyond the Bedside – The Human Side of Medicine” followed by the induction ceremony at 5:00 p.m.

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