Only a select group of medical students are elected to membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society each year and only a few are elected as juniors. Three medical students who are receiving their clinical training at the College were elected to membership in their junior year.
The students are: Kent Burton of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Reese Feist of Indian Springs, Ala.; and Justin Vines of Tallassee, Ala.
Alpha Omega Alpha is a professional medical organization that recognizes excellence in scholarship as well as outstanding commitment and dedication to caring for others. The top 25 percent of a medical school class is eligible for nomination to the honor society, and up to 16 percent may be elected based on leadership, character, community service and professionalism. The chapters are limited to the number of students they can elect as juniors and several chapters choose to elect only senior students.
“Election into AOA is truly a prestigious honor and not just because it recognizes these students’ outstanding achievements. Being elected into AOA also means you are being recognized for your potential to be a leader in the field of medicine,” says Heather Taylor, MD, the College’s assistant director of Medical Student Affairs. “We are certainly proud to have three of our own students receive this honor.”
Burton, who earned an undergraduate degree in Biology from The University of Alabama, says he was surprised to find out he was elected for membership. “I immediately told my parents and my fiancé…. To know that your family is proud of you is the best feeling in the world.”
The students recognize the faculty, among others, as major contributors to their success. “Medical school has been an enormous challenge, but I have enjoyed learning from such great faculty during my time as an undergraduate and medical student,” Feist says. He received his undergraduate degree from The University of Alabama and is interested in opthamology, specifically vitreoretinal surgery.
Vines, a graduate of The University of Alabama and the College’s Rural Scholars Program, says he is thankful for the support and encouragement of his family, friends, educators and peers. “I am blessed to have received such a prestigious honor and I hope that I can continue to grow and learn throughout the remainder of my medical education,” he says.
About 3,000 students, alumni and faculty are elected to Alpha Omega Alpha each year. The society has 120 chapters in medical schools throughout the United States and has elected more than 150,000 members since its founding in 1902.
In its role as a branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, the College provides clinical education to approximately 70 third- and forth-year medical students. The students complete the first two years of basic sciences courses at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, and then complete clinical rotations on the Tuscaloosa campus.