SpartanDO welcomes several new student clubs


The new groups create spaces for discussions around professional skills, identity and culture

“Med school is a fulfilling, but undeniably stressful experience,” says Umar Akel, OMS-II, president of Student Government Association (SGA). “That's why our student-run organizations are so important! They give students an opportunity to sink our teeth into work that we feel passionate about. Whether you are working with Spartan Street Medicine to provide health care to disadvantaged people, interacting with your religious community through one of our religious orgs or getting a closer look at a field you're interested in by working with one of our specialty orgs, the 32 student-run clubs at our college provide something for everyone.”

Part of making sure there is “something for everyone” includes supporting the launch of new student groups, of which there are three in 2021 so far.

Akel and the rest of the SGA executive board determine the funding for each club and establish communications between the groups, and are working on an e-board of the month initiative.

Here is a look at three of the new student clubs of 2021:

Business in Medicine (BIM)

The Business in Medicine (BIM) student club launched in October 2020 and received formal affiliation status through the college in April 2021. Matt Ammerman, OMS-II, is president and co-founder.

Looking for a way to help students explore practical financial matters and workplace skills in their personal and professional lives, Ammerman and a few friends put out feelers for interest in a new club, and eventually distilled the club’s focus areas into four categories: personal finance, health care policy and legislation, health care administration, and interprofessional teams.

With a background in financial analytics, Ammerman recognized that student debt and figuring out how to finance medical school is a challenge for most med students. He wanted to help educate fellow students on financial literacy to empower them to make better planning decisions around their debt management. He hopes that BIM’s financial-related initiatives—such as securing a free book about financial literacy for physicians from a publisher and distributing it to every student in the Class of 2024—will help students manage how much to borrow and steer clear of predatory student loans. “Financial literacy is very important, even more so with a large debt obligation and managing money,” he explains.

The health policy and legislation component helps students to better understand which national advocacy organizations will best fit their interests, and how to advocate for policies that will impact health in areas that are important to them. One such event featured Michigan State Representative Abdullah Hammoud, who spoke about health policy and budgeting, explained the policymaking process and how the future physicians can build relationships with local leaders, and discussed the need for more physicians to get involved in policies that govern health.

The third interest area of the club covers health care administration and better understanding how to bridge science and clinical work with operational efficiencies. A future event will feature a speaker from MSU Health Care Billing to speak about insurance and billing practices.

Relatedly, the fourth interest area covers interprofessional teams, looking at topics such as workplace culture, interdepartmental interactions, exposure to different roles and professional skills. The BIM leadership team hopes that preparing for real-world professional interactions now will help future physicians as they enter clinical environments in the future.

BIM’s events rotate through the four topics and are sometimes held in collaboration with other student groups to share specialty-specific information related to the business of medicine. Recently, BIM partnered with the Family Medicine Club around the direct primary care payment model that aims to make health care more accessible.  

BIM now includes over 100 members. Because some aspect of business or financial literacy will impact their futures, Ammerman thinks there is an event that fits every SpartanDO student’s interest. Ammerman says the BIM group “would love for anyone to come—the whole point is to educate,” and welcomes students from other colleges to attend as well.

For more information, follow the group on LinkedIn.

“The club merged the two worlds of finances and medicine for me. These topics complement each other in my life and other students see that as well,” Ammerman says.

Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)

“We needed a space,” Chiara Macaraig, OMS-II, says of the SpartanDO students who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander at the college. “Fifteen to twenty percent of our students identify as API.”

As the president of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), Macaraig is leading the group through its first official year of establishment, though she credits students in the Class of 2023 for starting the process to launch the club last year.

Already, they have held a variety of events, including collaborations with other clubs. During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, APAMSA raised funds for organizations fighting API hate crimes. To celebrate Pride Month, APAMSA partnered with the LGBT & Allies in Medicine Club to organize a documentary screening and discussion event around trans health. Along with the College of Human Medicine, APAMSA members put on a med school panel aimed at API undergrads at MSU who want to pursue medicine. In conjunction with the Student National Medical Association, the clubs organized an event to discuss skin, skin pathologies, social implications of skin color and colorism in different communities. APAMSA also organized a viewing of award-winning Minari and led discussions around Asian American identity and representation in media.

APAMSA plans to directly engage the community in the future, starting by providing health clinics at the Asian Center of Southeast Michigan.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, most events and meetings have been held via Zoom, which allows for students from all three of the college’s campuses to fully participate. Officially launched in February 2020, the club has over 20 members from each of the classes and is growing. “Our organization is a fun place to come. We welcome you with open arms! You don’t have to identify as API to participate,” she explains. “If you’re interested in Asian American culture or want to learn more because you’ll probably encounter an Asian American patient or immigrant in your practice, it’s important to be involved so you understand their background.”

Growing up in the vibrantly diverse San Francisco Bay Area, Macaraig says being part of APAMSA is meaningful because, “I want to celebrate diversity and how much we can learn from others. It’s important.”

Follow APAMSA on Instagram: @MSUCOM.APAMSA.

South Asian Medical Student Association (SAMSA)

At the urging of a third-year student, Neena Singhal and Monica Palande, both OMS-II students, co-founded the South Asian Medical Student Association chapter at the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Officially approved as of March 2021, the club has a roster of over 20 members.

“For South Asians, a lot of us are in the health care field so there are people for us to look up to, but I want there to be one place to put our resources together to support each other,” explains Singhal, mental health chair. “There are certain things that we struggle with that are unique. I want a space for us to have that representation and understanding carried forward professionally and personally.”

The group has already held three events, including two speaker events and one in-person networking mixer event in July. For Mental Health Awareness Month, SAMSA collaborated with the Islamic Medical Student Association to invite Dr. Farha Abbasi, assistant professor of psychiatry, to discuss mental health in the Islamic and South Asian communities.

SAMSA is open to everyone who wants to learn about South Asian culture. Keep up with SAMSA on Instagram (@MSUCOM.SAMSA) or join their general meeting in September.


Learn about all the student organizations here, including the CHM/COM Joint Pathology Interest Group; Jewish Osteopathic Student Association; Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender & Allies in Medicine; and more.