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Alpha Omega Alpha

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) is the national honor society for medical students. The three Greek letters AOA are initials of the essential words in the Greek version of the motto "Be worthy to serve the suffering."

Alpha Omega Alpha is "dedicated to the belief that in the profession of medicine we will improve care for all by: recognizing high educational achievement; honoring gifted teaching; encouraging the development of leaders in academia and the community; supporting the ideals of humanism; and promoting service to others."*

The values of the organization include "...honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others, and leadership. Members have a compelling drive to do well and to advance the medical profession and exemplify the highest standards of professionalism."*

Representative activities of the Upstate Gamma Chapter in recent years include:

  1. Establishment and support of an annual Student Research Day
  2. Sponsorship of an annual AOA Visiting Professor.
  3. Academic support for undergraduates, including tutoring, review sessions prior to exams in the first two years, USMLE prep.
  4. Establishment and support of a student Clerkship Liaison program, a resource to clerkship students and directors.
  5. Establishment and sponsorship of the Helping Hands for Forgotten Feet Clinic.
  6. Leadership training for medical students at all levels.

Chapter members are actively engaged in ongoing leadership, scholarship, and service activities, and membership criteria are designed to support this active engagement.

AOA MembersAOA Members

Criteria for Selection to AOA

Criteria for membership established by the national organization include high academic standing, "...leadership among ...peers, professionalism and a firm sense of ethics, promise of future success in medicine, and a commitment to service in the school and community. By adherence to these criteria...the highest ranked students by grade point average [are not always] elected to the society."* A requirement of membership in the Upstate Gamma Chapter is full participation in chapter activities from election until graduation, including a minimum of 40 hours tutoring undergraduate medical students.

The process of electing students to the Upstate Gamma Chapter of AOA is based on national guidelines and is further refined by chapter members:

  1. Per national AOA guidelines, students whose academic performance is in the top 25% of the class are eligible for election, up to 1/6 of the class (17%) may be elected, and up to half may be elected in the junior year. At Upstate Medical University, students in the top 15% of the class (determined by grades in required courses and clerkships in years 1-3) are invited to apply in the junior year and students in the top 25% are invited to apply in the senior year, after screening for any concerns regarding professional behavior and academic misconduct.
  2. The application form provides a template for students to submit information about their leadership, scholarship and service, and an essay. Election is determined by a process that weights clerkship performance (approximately 30%), USMLE Step 1 scores (approximately 30%) and leadership, scholarship and service (combined 40%).
  3. Applications are blinded and scored by AOA members using a rubric to evaluate the leadership, scholarship and service components of the candidates.

The chapter reviews the election criteria and weighting every year and makes periodic adjustments according to national recommendations for best practices and input from chapter members and the college dean. While specific weighting may change over the course of a student's enrollment, the emphasis on academic performance, leadership, scholarship and service will not change.

For questions please contact Patty Gooden, the Upstate Gamma Chapter Administrator,
or Chapter Councilor, Dr. Lynn Cleary, at (315) 464-5387.


(This information is also listed in the Student Handbook.)