As another school year quickly approaches, the newly elected Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) officers will continue driving SOMA into the 21st century, technologically speaking.
It is no secret that as "generation texters" enter medical school, they prefer delivery of their news and resources to be electronic, online and smart-phone-compatible. Therefore, SOMA spent much of the past year updating its programs and Web sites to reach this new generation of osteopathic medical students.
During the coming year, we will continue working to reach out to students through a variety of new tech-friendly formats.
In 2008, under the leadership of SOMA Webmaster Nicholas Perkins, OMS III, we began optimizing SOMA's Web site for speed and improving its functionality. For instance, the site now includes international health updates, scholarship applications, minority outreach information, research opportunities and preventive medicine awareness updates.
Another new avenue for SOMA members to receive the latest news about SOMA conventions, projects and events is the "National SOMA" group on Facebook. In addition to providing a forum for student opinion, the Facebook page enables students to connect with SOMA members and alumni across the nation.
We've also developed a student osteopathic clinical clerkship database, which will enable students to share information about rotations they have completed and search for potential training sites. (See last month's "OMS Spotlight" for more on this project.)
Each year, SOMA members join together to promote unity within the profession and aid communities in need. This year's SOMA Unity project, coordinated by Miranda L. Reed, OMS IV, drew students from across the nation to Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Fla, that caters to children with life-threatening diseases and their families.
In December, SOMA members will again travel to Give Kids the World Village, thanks to a generous offer from the AOA to sponsor the event.
In addition to the Unity project, SOMA hosted preventive medicine initiatives during the fall convention in Las Vegas and the spring convention in Washington, DC.
In Las Vegas, SOMA teamed up with Lied Discovery Children's Museum to educate families about the pitfalls of childhood obesity. Visiting several hands-on learning stations, participants learned how to calculate body mass index, measure blood pressure, and establish a healthy diet.
At SOMA's spring convention, our members collected supplies for the N Street Village, a Washington, DC, homeless shelter. Items arrived by the boxful and included umbrellas, bath towels and hygiene products.
Last year, SOMA members also raised $2,400 to donate to Heart to Heart International, a global health and humanitarian organization. Coordinated by SOMA's 2008-09 international health director, Elizabeth M. Windell, DO, the fundraiser helped Heart to Heart distribute medical supplies and educational materials across the globe.
Job well done
After so much hard work in 2008-09, it was time for SOMA members to celebrate during the annual dinner and awards ceremony at our spring convention in Washington. During the banquet, SOMA awarded scholarships in 12 different categories ranging from humanism in medicine to osteopathic research. See a complete list of recipients at www.studentdo.com.
We presented the George W. Northup Educator of the Year Award to Daniel R. Deavers, PhD, who served as a professor of physiology and pharmacology at the Des Moines (Iowa) University—College of Osteopathic Medicine before retiring last May.
Also during the banquet, we recognized the most politically active chapter of the year with the "SOMA Sam" Award. SOMA presented this year's award to the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
After a one-year hiatus, students from the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Ill, took home the Golden Femur Award for SOMA Chapter of the Year.
SOMA presented Reneeta Basu, OMS III, with the Officer of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding work at the Georgia Campus—Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee.
Looking toward the coming year, SOMA has welcomed a slate of new officers and a slew of fresh goals to accomplish.
One of those goals, continuing to add new features to the SOMA Web site, is already well under way. Several new changes can be expected later this year, including the unveiling of a new SOMA logo.
Earlier this summer, students began joining SOMA via the association's Web site. In addition, the SOMA Foundation recently unveiled its own Web site, located at www.somafoundation.org.
To increase SOMA's national visibility, members will work over the next several months to establish a social network on YouTube where students can post videos related to osteopathic medicine.
SOMA's National Board will also increase collaboration with other national student organizations to better address important issues such as student loan repayment, national health care reform and osteopathic graduate medical education.
The SOMA board is extremely excited for this year's fall convention in New Orleans, which will be held Oct. 29-31. Also, on Nov. 1, SOMA will host its first annual Residency Fair in conjunction with the AOA's 114th Annual Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition. The event will include representatives from numerous osteopathic residency programs in a variety of specialties and will provide medical students and DOs with a wealth of networking opportunities.
SOMA's annual spring convention will once again be held in Washington, DC, immediately following the AOA's DO Day on Capitol Hill on April 29.
Please follow SOMA online this year for up-to-date information.