Medical students receive national leadership appointments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) hosted its Spring Convention in Washington DC April 13-15.  At the Convention, two Campbell medical students were elected to the SOMA National Board of Directors and two were elected to the Board of Trustees.

Elected from a pool of 42 candidates from medical schools across the country, Crystal Cobb (MS-II) will serve as the Political Affairs Director and Alexandra Jordan (MS-II) will serve as the Strategic Partnerships Director on the SOMA National Board of Directors.  Additionally, Elizabeth Gibbs (MS-III) will serve on the SOMA Board of Trustees as Treasurer and Jordan Hitchens (MS-III) will serves as the Student Trustee to the AOA Board of Trustees.

These medical students are not new to national leadership roles.  Alexandra served as the CUSOM SOMA Chapter President in 2015, and Crystal served as the CUSOM Chapter’s 2015 SOMA National Liaison Officer.  As the chapter president, Alexandra represented CUSOM at National SOMA conventions and lead Campbell’s medical students in getting involved in national events like OMED and DO Day on the Hill as well as community service.

“Being involved in the profession at the national level was energizing and made the daily business of sitting in a classroom less mundane,” said Alexandra.  “It gave me opportunities to come to understand the importance of leadership at the student, resident, and physician level.”

As the National Strategic Partnerships Director, Alexandra will be responsible for the initiation, renewal, and maintenance of contracts with SOMA partners.  She will be responsible for developing relationships with Board prep companies, insurance agencies, and other lifestyle and academic partners.

“I am excited and honored to continue my affiliation with National SOMA! My mission for the year is to make SOMA membership valuable to each member in every aspect of their life.  As medical students, we are challenged by time constraints, academic demands, and financial limitations.  I hope to partner SOMA with organizations and businesses that can make being an osteopathic medical student a little easier.”

Additionally, she will participate in the National Board of Directors Meetings, serve on committees, and attend three annual SOMA Conventions as a senior leader organizing sponsors and leading workshops for the attendees.

“I really enjoyed serving as the CUSOM SOMA National Liaison Officer over this past term; hearing other student’s thoughts and ideas for our profession is so inspirational and energizing!” said Crystal. “I appreciate the opportunity to continue working with SOMA on the national level.”

As the chapter national liaison, Crystal served as an intermediary between national SOMA and the chapter.  She and Alexandra served as the school’s two voting delegates at SOMA national conventions. Now as the Political Affairs Director, she will work with the National Board of Directors, other SOMA officers from across the country, and the AOA to increase student resources and access to policy and legislative happenings.  She plans to work to translate policy developments into communications that are easy to understand.

“Often, healthcare policy can seem complicated – but it is so important to promote transparency and enable advocacy because policy impacts us all – both the way physicians practice and the patients we are privileged enough to serve.”

Crystal and Alexandra are following in the footsteps of three students from CUSOM’s inaugural class (CUSOM 2017) who served  on the National Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 academic year–Jordan Hitchens, Health Disparities Director;  Elizabeth ‘Liza’ Gibbs,  PR Director; and Neil Bhathela, Community Outreach Director.

Having served on the National Board of Directors, these now third year medical students were prepared for election to the Board of Trustees, and Elizabeth and Jordan were selected for positions at this next level of national leadership.

Elizabeth Gibbs will serve as National Treasurer for the SOMA National Board of Trustees.  In her previous role as PR Director, she provided content for SOMA social media, updated the website, provided convention information to student members, updated SOMA branding to align with strategic priorities in keeping with the AOA Doctors that DO campaign, and assisted in planning the annual SOMA conventions.

Jordan Hitchens has been appointed the SOMA Student Trustee to the AOA Board of Trustees.  In this position, she will be the student voice for all osteopathic medical students to the AOA Board of Trustees.

“This is an incredible honor, and we as Campbell should be so proud of her,” said Alexandra.  “Jordan is a genuine advocate for students and everything the AOA stands for.  In terms of student leadership opportunities on a national level, it doesn’t get much better than this!”

As a new school, this is the first year CUSOM has been eligible to have students on the Board of Trustees.

“To have a student nominated and subsequently elected to the prestigious position of Student Trustee to the AOA Board of Trustees speaks to the strengths of our school and student leaders,” said Alexandra.

When the students officially transition in July at the American Osteopathic Association House Of Delegates, CUSOM will be the most heavily represented school in national SOMA leadership.
“It is really humbling to be appointed to a position by your peers,” said Jordan.  “Knowing that I have gained the support, respect and belief from this amazing group of students is such an amazing feeling!”

Jordan served as founding CUSOM SOMA chapter Secretary and then applied to serve as Health Disparities Director for the SOMA National Board of Directors for the 2015-2016.  At the spring conference in Washington DC, she applied for the Student Trustee position submitting answers to essay questions about her vision for the position and her qualifications.

The AOA Student Trustee is a liaison between the osteopathic medical student organizations and the AOA.  The student is appointed by the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents and SOMA on a biannual rotation.  The position was appointed through SOMA by the Board of Trustees-Elect during the Spring Convention for the 2016-2017 academic year.

As the AOA Student Trustee, it will be Jordan’s duty to advocate for her fellow medical students and continue to make the osteopathic medical student voice heard.

“Currently, about one-fifth of all medical students in the country are osteopathic medical students – well over 7,000 newly minted DO’s graduate each year – and these graduates are often filling the primary care voids our country is suffering greatly from,” said Jordan.  “With healthcare’s shift to a larger emphasis on preventative medicine, osteopathic physicians have been both willing and able to step up to the demands of the patient population.”

“In this position, I hope to maintain transparency with my fellow students throughout the historic changes we’re going through currently,  keep a strong voice, and accurately represent the needs of the osteopathic medical student population,” said Jordan.  “It is an amazing time for future osteopathic physicians.  We truly are the future of medicine – both individually as future medical providers and overall as a profession.”