Student Organizations

Vanderbilt Chapters of National and International Organizations

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA)

AOA is a national medical honor society. Potential members are near the top of their class academically and are chosen with regard to character and leadership qualities. The AOA sponsors a Deans’ Lecture each year. This honor is especially helpful for competitive specialties. First year does not count toward your AOA status, so there’s even more reason not to stress about your grades first year.

American Medical Association – Medical Student Section (AMA-MSS)

AMA is one of the country’s leading political advocacy groups for physicians and patients. As a democratic policy-making group, one of its primary agendas is professional liability reform. Within the AMA is the Medical Student Section. National meetings and conventions are held every year and offer a great opportunity to work with physicians on resolutions to improve our health care system. Visit the website for more information:

Contact: Will McKenna (VMS III)

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the US. AMSA provides a forum for political advocacy, education, and discussion about solutions to the issues that will confront the next generation of physicians. Our activities include Day on the Hill, Health Policy Debates, Give TN Kids a Chance campaign, Community Health Fairs, PharmFree Events, Regional Conference Sponsors, National Primary Care Week, and Speaker Series

Contact: Allison Umfress (VMS II)

American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

The American Medical Women’s Association, AMWA, advocates for and supports female physicians in training. AMWA focuses on issues important to women in medicine and women’s healthcare. In addition, AMWA members try to help women in the community through various volunteer programs. AMWA activities include a mentoring program that allows female medical students to mingle and meet with practicing female physicians who share similar career interests, as well as panel discussions pertinent to issues of women in medicine. AMWA also promotes mentoring between VMSII and VMSI ladies.

Contact: Caitlin Bell (VMS II)

Asian-Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)

APAMSA aims to bring together all medical students interested in the health issues that affect Asians. Its members are interested in promoting the health and well-being of the Asian community, and in helping health care providers understand how to care for Asian patients in a culturally sensitive manner. Activities include sending delegates to national conferences, raising awareness of health care disparities, enhancing Asian cultural understanding among medical students, and organizing networking and social events.

Contact: John Chen (VMS II)

Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)

The under-representation of Latino health care professionals is directly linked to continued disparities in health issues that disproportionately confront the Latino community. LMSA is committed to improving this situation. It is a network of students, alumni, and health professionals whose mission is to promote the development of Latino students through education, volunteerism, and professional networking opportunities that foster diversity, higher education, and the improved health of the Latino community. In addition, VAMOS is a program within LMSA that seeks to prepare students for the challenges of cross-cultural medical care with an emphasis on Spanish language competency.

Contact: Leonela Villegas (VMS II) and Carla Valenzuela (VMS IV)

Military Medical Student Association (MMSA)

MMSA is a national organization designed to serve as a resource for medical students participating in the Armed Forces Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). The chapter at Vanderbilt was created for the VMS HPSP student and anyone interested in the opportunities to practice medicine in the military. In addition to providing an open forum in which general information about the HPSP scholarship and a career as a military physician can be discussed, the student-run group also serves as a source of continuity for the incoming HPSP classes where answers to more minor, yet still important administrative details of the scholarship can be found. Upperclass members of the MMSA, who have personal experience with the scholarship and are the most familiar with the military residency match process, are an invaluable resource for the rising classes.

Contact: Stephanie Couch (recent graduate)

Organization of Student Representatives (OSR)

The OSR is the student division of the AAMC that represents the academic interests of all students of the 125 allopathic medical schools. The OSR is dedicated to providing medical students with voting representation on issues such as the evolution of medical education and the role of medical students in the professional workplace. There are regional as well as national meetings on an annual basis, during which the OSR representative of each school articulates his or her respective school’s agenda. For more information visit:

Contact: Vanessa Kennedy (VMS II)

Student National Medical Association (SNMA)

The Student National Medical Association is the nation’s oldest and largest student organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of diverse backgrounds. The Vanderbilt chapter of SNMA is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.

Contact: DeAngelo Harris (VMS II)


As physicians or researchers, the ability to coherently and confidently communicate with others is of vital importance. Toastmasters is an international organization that aims to improve this as well as leadership skills. The Vanderbilt chapter is composed of students (medical, graduate, law, and undergraduate) and working professionals. Members work towards honors and distinctions through a series of projects focusing on different aspects of public speaking and leadership. Each meeting consists of several prepared speeches, oral evaluations, and an impromptu speaking exercise.

Contact: Daniel Kashima (VMS III)

Vanderbilt Medical School & Community Based Organizations


ADVOCATE seeks to improve patient care by equipping medical professionals and professional students with the knowledge and tools to appreciate and understand the complete medical needs of their patients. The mission is to help health professionals respond to such needs by providing patients with greater access to community-wide resources and cost-effective therapeutic agents. The group updates the “Quick Guide: Social & Pharmacy Resources in the Nashville Area” on a yearly basis and redistributes to house staff and students. This booklet contains medical, dental, mental health, and social service resources, in addition to other community programs, as well as a complete listing of cost-effective drugs and prescription programs.

Radial Grooves

Radial Grooves is the official VMS singing group. This coed a cappella group combines the former all-female group, Biorhythms, with the former all-male group, Immune Response. Past performances have included events on campus and at the hospital, the American Academy of Clinical Anatomists conference, the Canby Robinson Reception, the Dean’s Picnic, Convocation, and Class Day. Radial Grooves also has the opportunity to present pieces they have worked on during the semester to their classmates and professors at various events throughout the year (such as Second Look Weekend).

Contact for Radial Grooves: Ebone Ingram (VMS II)

Best Buddies

Best Buddies in an international organization that was established in 1989 to create opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with disabilities. We, the Vandy Med Chapter, are proud to say that we are the very first Best Buddies medical school chapter! Our student members are paired in one-to-one friendships with adults with intellectual disabilities here in the Nashville community. Our goal is to forge lasting friendships and increase awareness surrounding issues that impact healthcare for individuals with disabilities.

Contact: Lucy Unger (VMS II) and Shawn Love (VMS II)

VMS Brewing and Fermentation Science Club

Ever wanted to brew your own beer, know what’s responsible for the flavors you love in your favorite beer, finally find a beer or cider you like, or just enjoy some great new styles of beer with friends? The Vanderbilt Brewing and Fermentation Science Club is a new student organization that promotes appreciation for the science, art, culture, and history of beer and other fermented products through meetings, events, tastings, and brewing.

Contact: Josh Hollabaugh (VMS II)

Couples in Medicine

Couples in Medicine: Dating, engaged, and married couples, and people that really have an affinity for hanging out with couples, are welcome to join this group! We have a few social events each semester and join in the bond of having a significant other -whether they are in medicine or not!

Contact: Nick Saltarelli (VMS II) and Kensey Pease (VMS II)

Flexner Dean’s Lecture Series

The mission of the Flexner Dean’s Lecture Series (FDLS) is to bring thought leaders from diverse niches of medicine to Vanderbilt in order to broaden the perspectives, knowledge, and interests of the Vanderbilt medical community. The FDLS is coordinated primarily by medical students at the end of their first year and throughout their second year. Lectures occur about once a month from August through April.

Contact: Erin Nichols, Cherie Fathy, Ishan Asokan (VMS II)

French Club

This is a club for all who speak the language or who appreciate francophone culture from the world over! Plans for the year include potlucks, game nights, a cooking class, wine tasting, and much more! Come join if you are at all interested in things French or French-speaking, or if you simply have a lot of “joie de vivre!”

Contact: Ana Milisavljevic and Eszter Szentirmai (VMS II)

Global Health Committee / Vanderbilt International Connections (GHC / VIC)

This year, two separate groups, the Global Health Committee and Vanderbilt International Connections, combined to create one group to better service the needs of students and communities. The Global Health Committee (GHC) previously increased awareness of important issues in global health, particularly in the developing world. Vanderbilt International Connections (VIC) was previously a student organization that provided service opportunities for diverse refugee populations in Nashville, celebrated international backgrounds and experiences, provided support to international students with everyday medical school issues, answered their immigration questions, and made connections with international students in other Vanderbilt graduate programs. The new GHC/VIC group (stay tuned for a new name soon!) will continue to address these issues, focusing on global and refugee health. World Health Week will feature lectures and discussions with world-renowned professionals in international health. Our brown-bag lunches allow students to hear from peers who have studied and worked abroad. In partnership with the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, we will connect Vanderbilt medical students with faculty to foster Global Health research relationships and also provide information about 4th year international rotations. This year, we will be working with Catholic Charities to put on health fairs in the Nashville area.

Contact: Mary Masterman and Nida Safdar (VMS II)

Greatest Gift, Inc.

Greatest Gift, Inc. was officially founded on April 17, 2008 in Florida and was granted 501(c)3 status shortly after. The founding fathers were 5 medical and pre-med students from all over the country with a common passion for organ and tissue donation education. It was their goal to use this passion to teach their classmates, colleagues, and fellow students around the country about the processes, myths, and misconceptions of donation. Greatest Gift, Inc. is designed to educate future educators. It is our mission at Greatest Gift, Inc. to get people to start having conversations about their views on donation. It isn’t an easy subject to talk about with your loved ones, which makes it all the more important. We are dedicated to providing anyone and everyone with accurate information and statistics in order to dispel the myths and misconceptions that seem to constantly hover around this topic, and allow for educated discussions and decisions.

LGBT, M.D. (the Gay-Straight Alliance)

LGBT, M.D. works to maximize the quality of health and health services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; to increase awareness and promote full civil rights; and to foster a professional climate in which diverse members can achieve their full potential. LGBT, M.D. activities this past year included a speaker for National Coming Out Day, a community LGBT health fair, and an entire week focusing on LGBT health, awareness and social issues.

Contact: Larry Zhang (VMS II)

Medical Students for Choice (MSFC)

Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) is dedicated to ensuring that women have the ability to access and make informed choices about their own reproductive healthcare. MSFC works actively with the community to provide awareness about reproductive health, organizes speakers at VUMC, and promotes open dialogue about reproductive choice. Composed of medical students, this group works to make reproductive health care, including abortion, a part of standard medical education and residency training.

Contact: Perrin Considine (VMS II)

Microbes and Defense Academic Society (MDAS)

The MDAS’s mission is to enrich interactions between students and faculty and to foster in students a deeper appreciation of the impact of microbial and immune diseases on the patient, physician, and society. MDAS members engage in analysis and discussion of diseases confronting people in the United States and throughout the world. Society members also organize review sessions for the Microbiology and Immunology Course. First-year students are invited to attend open meetings during the second semester. Membership is offered to students based on outstanding performance in the Microbiology and Immunology Course, participation in a research project and/or active participation in Society activities.

Contact: Dr. John V. Williams (Faculty Advisor to the MDAS) and Dr. Luc Van Kaer (Course Director of previous Microbiology & Immunology course)

The Paddle

The awesome responsibility of continuing the glorious tradition of The Paddle will fall on your shoulders next year. This year is the first year that we’ve had the Paddle online, so if you decide to be a part of The Paddle team for next year, there will be many opportunities in writing, designing, and web development to make this an even better product!

Contact: Eszter Szentirmai (VMS II)


PENCIL is a community service tutoring program for medical students from Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College. PENCIL volunteers are paired with elementary or middle school students at local Nashville Metro Public Schools and engage in hands-on reading and math activities for one hour per week. PENCIL “tutors” work with groups of 1-3 children. These groups are constant from week to week and facilitate the formation of strong bonds between the students and tutors.

Contact: Hannah Johnson (VMS II)

Physicians for Human Rights

PHR was founded in 1986 with the aim of limiting human rights violations through medicine and advocacy. We recognize that physicians have a powerful role in advocating for victims of human rights violations, and are instrumental to facilitating change. Many victims, such as refugees and immigrants, are routinely disadvantaged when seeking medical services. The goal of PHR is to improve access to sensitive care for vulnerable communities, while also educating the medical community about the special needs of these people. Though Vanderbilt's chapter was founded last year, it has already hosted numerous events including a special breakfast with South Africa's Justice Edwin Cameron and a lunch talk with Ms. Carol Etherington, the former head of MSF. Join us as we plan to have many exciting events scheduled over the course of the year.

Contact: Ishan Asokan and Rivka Ihejirika (VMS II)


REMEDY, Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World, is an organization that promotes the nationwide practice of collecting opened, yet unused surgical supplies. The end goal of our mission is to provide international medical relief by shipping these supplies to third world countries while reducing solid medical waste from US hospitals. A few times a year you will dress in scrubs and experience a little of Vanderbilt’s OR system to collect these supplies which will be sent around the world, for example: Nicaragua, Niger Republic, and Kenya.

Contact: Paul Cohen, Neil Holby, Harrison Kay, and Emily Merkel (VMS II)

Society of Saints Cosmas and Damian (Catholic Medical Student Group)

The Society of Sts. Cosmas & Damian was founded and exists: 1.) To actively incorporate the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith into medical students’ development as physicians; 2.) To address the physical and spiritual challenges of medical school through fellowship, prayer, and religious support; 3.) To apply principles of social justice through direct service to the Nashville Community; 4.) To conduct contemporary discussions of biomedical ethics and their application to the diverse patients we will serve. Favorite events put on by the Society of Sts. Cosmas & Damian for all students include lunchtime lectures about Faith & Medicine and Taking a Spiritual History, Lent and Advent community prayer times, a Flannery O’Connor book club, and service opportunities with Room at the Inn and Loaves & Fishes.

Contact: Brittany Tielbur (VMS II) and Monica Bhutiani (VMS II)

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa is dedicated to the idea that the mediums of film, paint, pen and paper lend doctors the means with which to explore the nature of humanity and enhance their medical experiences. We welcome any submissions that offer perspectives of life in medicine. We hope that by creating this space for expression, those at Vanderbilt School of Medicine will always remember that the humanities can greatly enrich our understanding as physicians.

Contact: James Lee (VMS II)

Tennis Club

The tennis club began last year as informal, fun way to bring students together of all skill levels to play tennis. We have hosted free-for-all afternoons were people come out and just find other students to play with, given some lessons, and put together round-robin style tournaments. We hope to plan more events this year including more formal tournaments, social nights, and skills clinics to help some of the more beginner students. Therefore, regardless of whether you played tennis in college, high school, or never before but are still interested, join the tennis team so you can receive emails about all of our events and help us organize some throughout the year.

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

UAEM is a group of students from both Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the university community committed to raising awareness of neglected diseases and increasing access to essential medicines in the third world. By educating the Vanderbilt community on issues of access to medicine and bringing faculty, administrators and students together to address them, UAEM strives to promote equal access to outcomes of research with therapeutic value and to promote research for neglected diseases and drug development. Visit or the Vanderbilt UAEM website at

Contact: Joseph Boyle (VMS II) and Ishan Asokan (VMS II)

Vanderbilt Association for Stroke Awareness (VASA)

VASA was started this year to provide opportunities for students interested in cerebrovascular disease to learn more about stroke and get involved in community outreach events. Projects include awareness campaigns, volunteering at support groups, and a lecture series on stroke. Students can also connect with faculty members interested in cerebrovascular disease.

Vanderbilt Buddhist Community

This VMS group provides, in a non-sectarian spirit, a forum for Buddhist teachings and practice and allows students to engage with Buddhist events in the Nashville area. The group has previously provided interested students with one Buddhism-related book per semester and has facilitated student-run discussions. In addition, we have provided information on Nashville Buddhist resources.

Vanderbilt Educational Garden Initiative (VEGI)

VEGI was founded by medical students in order to counter the growing obesity epidemic and lack of nutritious foods in Nashville. Our first major initiative was to establish a community garden near McFerrin Park in East Nashville. In partnership with local community members and corporate sponsors, we help care for and harvest from the garden so that it benefits those with the most financial and medical need. The VEGI organization provides free and fresh herbs and vegetables to members of the East Nashville community, educational resources for healthy living and eating (with advice from the Shade Tree Clinic), and gardening and nutrition classes for children and adults.

Contact: Matthew Correia, Deirdre Finnegan, Joshua Hollabaugh, Ashlee Hurff, and Brie White-Dzuro (VMS II)

Vanderbilt Healthcare Improvement Group

Vanderbilt Healthcare Improvement Group is a community of Vanderbilt management, medicine and nursing students committed to advancing education and student involvement in quality improvement (QI) of healthcare. It is part of a global network of chapters supported by the Cambridge, MA-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Members are engaged in a number of projects on campus, such as launching an interdisciplinary elective in QI and performing QI projects at Shade Tree Family Clinic and VUMC.

Vanderbilt Medical AIDS Coalition (VMAC)

The Vanderbilt Med AIDS Coalition (VMAC), in partnership with Nashville CARES (Middle Tennessee’s AIDS service organization), works to provide free HIV testing and counseling, home visits to people living with HIV/AIDS, and HIV education and outreach throughout the Nashville community. VMAC also aims to raise HIV/AIDS awareness within the Vanderbilt Medical School community.

Vanderbilt Sporting Clay Team

This is an organization dedicated to providing students the opportunity to participate in sporting clay and other firearm events. Members need no prior experience but just an enthusiasm to learn how to operate a firearm effectively and safely. Members typically meet at Nashville Gun Club during the weekends and practice sporting clay together. Occasionally group members will participate in competition events as well as hunting events. This club is not restricted to just shotguns but members may participate in other shooting events as well including rifle and pistol.

VMS Dance

This group provides a creative space for the performing arts and shares student works with the medical community and beyond. VMS Dance recruits student choreographers/instructors and offers free biweekly dance classes. Current classes include salsa, hip hop, ballroom and swing aerial. The club has performed at the annual Cadaver Ball and organized dance workshops for community organizations such as STRIDE (Shade Tree Resources in Diabetes Education), Children’s Hospital, Caldwell Elementary and the Eskind Diabetes Center.

Contact: Leonela Villegas (VMS II)

Wilderness Medicine

This is a group of students and faculty interested in learning about and participating in the field of wilderness medicine. Each semester features lunch lectures with guest speakers who teach about fundamental issues such as altitude medicine and disaster relief. In addition, students compete with other schools in the MedWAR adventure race series, a group of trail races in which students develop wilderness medicine skills through completion of hands-on scenarios.

Contact: Nick Saltarelli (VMS II)

Wine Club

We are a medical student organization that started 9 years ago to provide a fun and relaxed environment in which to learn about wine! We usually taste 7-9 wines per event, and each event is themed. Past presentation topics have included Best of: Spanish vs Italian Wine, Wines of Australia/New Zealand, Dessert and Sparkling Wines, and the Science behind Food/Wine Pairings. At each event, you’ll have the chance to win a free bottle. Whether you’re new or a seasoned expert, we’d love to have you join us! Membership is open to all students in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as well as their significant others. All members must be 21 years of age or older to participate in wine tasting events.

Contact: Mitch Odom (VMS III), Kelli Jarrell (VMS II), and Kenny Taubenslag