March 24, 2014

By: Carolyn Pennington

Several UConn School of Medicine students received special recognition at the recent American Medical Student Association (AMSA) convention in New Orleans.

Most notably, third-year student Deborah Hall was elected to be the national president-elect. She will serve as AMSA president during the 2015-2016 programming year. During her term, she will work full time, promoting AMSA’s missions and aspirations, and will collaborate with student leaders from all over the country.

Hall has been involved with AMSA for six years (since she was a premedical student at Wesleyan University) and has served in many national leadership positions over the years.

“AMSA has given me incredible mentors and a lot of opportunities to grow as a leader and to make an impact on health care while I am still in training,” explains Hall. “I think that it’s important to be involved in the organizations that represent our profession, because they will speak for us, whether we participate or not.”

Other UConn medical students receiving recognition at the convention include Sahar Barfchin, who was elected to the Board of Trustees as national vice president of leadership development. Fludiona Naka was elected to be regional director.

Chelsea Osterman received 1st prize ($250) in the poster contest.  She won in the category of Basic Science and Translational Research for her work on platelet-rich plasma injections.

Kelsey Sokol was selected to present her poster on student feedback from UConn Health’s Clinical Skills Assessment Program over four years of medical school.

Others in attendance were Maureen Dunn, Ethan Talbot, Carolyn Kwiat and Melina Benson. Overall, there were nine students representing UConn at the convention.

“It has been wonderful to have leaders from both inside of AMSA and from other organizations notice how robust UConn’s presence is in AMSA’s national leadership,” adds Hall. “I always tell them that we are very fortunate to be studying somewhere that understands the value of having students engaged in service and leadership as part of our development into well-rounded physicians. It is truly that support that allows us to thrive.”

Also of note, this past programming year for AMSA:

Hall served as vice president for internal affairs; Melina Benson served as chair of the Wellness and Student Life Committee; Barfchin served as coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Committee; and Dunn was the UConn Chapter President.