how to get into AOA in medical school

How To Get Into AOA In Medical School

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Do you know how to get into AOA in medical school? Some people already know how to do that, but it is not going to be an easy road

Most students strive to become AOA, perhaps one of the highest honors you can get in medical school. Everyone knows how challenging the field can get at different levels, but it always feels good to have your hard work acknowledged.

Let us find out more if you may be eligible for AOA and what else you may do to increase your chance of getting elected!

How to get into AOA in medical school

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What Is AOA In The Medical Field?

AOA, or Alpha Omega Alpha, is the national medical honor society founded in 1902. Being elected to AOA truly signifies a lasting commitment to leadership, research, community service, scholarship, and professionalism

The primary driver of its foundation was the poor quality of American Medical Schools back then. Today, the organization is exclusively for the promotion of a high standard of character and conduct among graduates and medical students. It also fosters the recognition of high attainment in medical science

This is a lifelong honor, and the members of the society confer in recognition of dedication to the profession.  

The mission of the Alpha Omega Alpha includes the following:

  • Recognizing achievement in high education
  • Encouraging the development of leaders in the community and academia
  • Honoring gifted teaching
  • Promoting service to others
  • Supporting the ideals of humanism

Each year, there are around 4,000 students, faculties, alumni, and residents/fellows elected. Ever since its inception, there are almost 200,000 members that were elected to the society. 

Currently, the organization has 135 Chapters and supports 13 fellowships, programs, grants, and awards for med students and physicians. They also publish a peer-reviewed medical humanities journal called The Pharos quarterly. It contains articles on nontechnical medical matters, such as ethics, national issues, history, poetry, and personal essays. 

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Who Decides Who Gets Into AOA?

All students that were admitted to any medical school are eligible to be elected for AOA. However, it is the Dean’s office that decides which students are more likely to be considered based on their adherence to standards of ethical and professional behavior and academic achievements.

Each student is evaluated by the committee responsible for the selection once in medical school. There are guidelines set out by the honor society that determines the number of students selected for induction every year. The size of the class can also be a factor in this decision. 

Take note that a postponement of graduation approved by the Dean’s Office does not impact election eligibility as long as you meet the standards of the school.

Once the students eligible for consideration are determined by the Dean’s office, they will inform those students through email. They need to complete an online submission form if they wish to participate

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Academic achievements are not the only factors to be chosen for AOA. A holistic approach is applied to this to find the ones with the highest eligibility for the honor. These factors include dealing with colleagues, demonstrating professionalism, service to the school and community, and commitment to leadership. Additionally, students under consideration are presented without personal identifiers to avoid biases. 

The selection process results will be announced by email to all students considered by the faculty AOA officers. They usually elect the maximum total allowed depending on class size, which will complete the academic year process. In some cases, the committee may reserve a few spots and reconsider the election for some students initially considered before graduation.

Once the selection process is done, specific chapters will then share the election results with the national organization. A registration process is also initiated. They will also update the elected students’ Dean’s letters for their ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service).

This letter will serve as their confirmation until after the completion of the registration. However, make sure to avoid mentioning being considered for AOA if you haven’t received your confirmation of selection yet. This is because of a possible miscommunication you may have with the program in case the decision goes sideways. 

How Are AOA Members Chosen?

Getting elected to AOA is an honor any medical student will have throughout their career. However, one cannot just apply for the position in order to be considered. If you want to be considered, you must possess the following eligibility requirements:

  • Capacity for leadership
  • Service to the school and community
  • Scholastic excellence
  • Integrity
  • Good track record
  • Adherence to the school standard

Being elected for AOA is a distinction in a physician’s career. Each chapter around the country is permitted to elect around 16% of their class expected to graduate for that year.

In academic history, students in the top 25% of the class are the only ones given AOA eligibility. However, the transition to a P/F phase 1 curriculum has made schools rely mostly on the students’ 3rd-year GPA. Today, there are other factors considered as well that do not just focus on academic excellence. AOA may now also consider peer evaluations, CSE 3 performance, and CLG leader recommendations.

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The national AOA organization increased the percentage of students eligible for the position in 2020. The task force has recommended maintaining a minimum GPA requirement of the 50% of the top-performing students in the class.

In some universities, students in the top GPA quartile receive automatic eligibility. On the other hand, those in the 2nd GPA quartile will be eligible if they are in the top 20% of peer evaluations, recommended by their CLG leader, or a top performer on the final CSE 3C exam. 

Once the students are determined, the list will then be reviewed by the Dean of Student Affairs or the Dean of Medical Evaluation Education. In this stage, they find out if the concerned students do not have professional concerns that would make them disqualified from consideration. 

Remember that the Alpha Omega Alpha constitution does not permit self-nomination. You cannot request anyone to nominate you, and doing so may further exclude you from eligibility.

Those who are notified will be invited to submit information regarding their experience in the school, community, and other organizations. They can also tackle their leadership roles in local, regional, and national sectors and provide evidence of excellence in research, awards, and program development. 

Such information should be summarized. It would help if you mentioned only the most significant experience and achievements that would make your application stand out. 

The AOA Selection Committee was initially formed in 2012, and any AOA faculty or resident member can apply to be a committee. The discussion of applicants is done to clarify the nature of the submitted accomplishments. Applicants usually submit many achievements in the major categories, and at least one is typically noteworthy.

Identifiers are removed from the materials, and these achievements remain the sole marker of whether the student will be elected. Committee members are prohibited from speaking on behalf of the students to avoid knowing who worked with the committees. 

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How To Get Into AOA In Medical School?

In most cases, having an excellent academic performance is enough to catch the attention of anyone on the selection committee. However, there is more to look for beyond your grades and test scores.

Humanism, scholarly endeavors outside the classroom, leadership, and professionalism have significant contributions when you are being evaluated as a candidate. 

The committee that will select the eligible students will balance your personal attributes and academic merits. They also advocate for diversity in all forms, including:

  • Geographic location
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • Cultural
  • Experimental
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Social and economic status
  • Aptitude
  • Political beliefs
  • Religious beliefs
  • Physical abilities
  • Different ideologies

The selection should also support the organization’s aim to promote research and scholarship in medical schools and recognize achievement in the medical field. No candidate should be denied election because of any characteristics protected by the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action laws of provinces, states, territories, and nations. 

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What Are The Benefits Of Being A Member Of AOA?

If you believe that you can be a good candidate for an AOA election, these are some of the benefits that you can get if you become elected:

More Likely To Enter Competitive Specialties

We all know it can be pretty difficult to enter certain medical specialties, especially those at the more competitive level. Some studies show that students who were granted AOA were able to get into more lifestyle-friendly and competitive specialties.

When you are elected AOA, it is more likely to be much easier for you to get into your desired specialty during your residency. Such achievements are considered by the admission board, as it is one of the highest honors that you can get in medical school.

Lifelong Distinction

Being an AOA in medical school will forever be tied to your name. Having such an accomplishment can bring many opportunities and endeavors

It is something you should be proud of because not everyone can get it despite being eligible.

how to get into AOA in medical school

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Network

AOA may be able to give you access to exclusive groups, organizations, and communities that value excellence in the medical field. It would be extremely helpful for medical students to have a vast network in the field that they can reach out to if the situation requires it.

Having a mentor may also benefit the student when it comes to recommendations, medical-related questions, research, or any general wondering in the profession.  

Acknowledged Hard Work

AOA is an outstanding way to get your hard work acknowledged and rewarded. The medical school itself is pretty challenging and excelling in the field reflects how much effort you put into your craft. 

AOA is only for students who truly stand out from the rest of the pool, and it is only fair for them to be recognized. 

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Being an AOA in medical school will not be easy, but not entirely impossible. If you think that you have academic excellence and adequate professional experience, that is one step ahead of others.

If you find yourself somehow unsure of what you can do to be eligible, you can always go back and refer to this article to find out how to be AOA in medical school. You can make specific preparations to improve your standing and end up in a good place in your career.

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Until the next one my friend…

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