By Christin Senior | March 10, 2017 2:47 pm

Jeremy Driscoll’s path to medicine included a few detours and about-turns.Only a few years ago, he was bent on going to law school after getting his undergraduate degree. He was unemployed and had moved back home with his parents. There he got a job as a scribe in an emergency room in his Arizona hometown, where he assisted physicians by recording patient information during medical exams.

“That’s where I fell in love with medicine,” Driscoll said. “It impacted me so much that I changed my mind about law and applied to med school, and now here I am waiting to find out next week if I will be matched into emergency medicine residency program.”

Driscoll was one of 20 third and fourth-year College of Medicine students who were inducted March 9 into Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the national honor society of medical students, which recognizes scholarship, leadership, professionalism and community service. The induction banquet was the fifth for the medical school’s Zeta Chapter.

“This is one of my proudest accomplishments,” Driscoll said after his official induction, “something that I worked really hard for throughout medical school. I try to exemplify all of the pillars that the AOA is built on, and it’s something that I’m going to take with me throughout my career as a physician.”

To be considered for induction, students’ academic performance must be in the top 25 percent of their class.  An AOA selection committee, comprised of current student members, faculty and community members, further considers participation in research, community service and leadership. Inductee hopefuls should also abide by the principles of the AOA, – honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others, and leadership.

The 20 new members embody these tenets. They participated in medical mission trips to the Philippines, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago, held various leadership positions at the College of Medicine and presented research at national conferences. One was the recipient of a United States Public Health Service Award for Excellence in public service. Another received the Adolescent Psychiatry Medical Student Award and the Mayo Clinic Psychiatry Elective Scholarship Award.

Dr. Colleen Moran-Bano, AOA chapter councilor and assistant professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine, said she was privileged to share in the successes of the students and to work with them in the AOA.

“It is my hope that all of these amazing students will continue to be active in the AOA national organization,” she said. “I hope they not only continue to represent the values for which they were selected, but also share their gifts with future patients for whom they will care, and with future medical students whom they will supervise.”

For the first year, the College of Medicine had an AOA-sponsored visiting professorship. Dr. Barbara Pettitt director of Medical Student Education at Emory University held a luncheon lecture entitled “Leadership in a Dynamic Healthcare Environment: The Role of the Young Physician.” Dr. Pettitt underscored the importance of leadership skills for physicians, and their need to be involved as leaders in the healthcare system.

“When I was a young medical student,” she said. “I thought that I would just became a leader in the future somewhere out there, that right now my focus was to do well on Step 1 and Step 2, get good grades and get into a good residency. I didn’t see leadership as a day-to-day activity. But leadership is a day-to-day practice. It’s about learning the names of the people you work with, surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than you, learning to dialogue with people who disagree with you. These are skills that leaders need and we need to do it every day, starting now.”

Each year, AOA members select for membership faculty honorees who exhibit dedication to teaching and serve as role models for professionalism and compassion. This year, students honored volunteer/affiliated faculty member, Dr. Burnes Feaster III, a pulmonologist at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Petersburg where students do multiple clerkships.

“His weekly X-ray rounds and unique approach to the chest X-ray are legendary, and students are always welcome to join him in the clinic even when not on his service,” said AOA co-president Faith Villanueva.

This year’s inductees are:

Class of 2017
Antoinette Birs
Lisa Brubaker
Michael Chambers
Jeremy Driscoll
Lauren Kendall
Austin Moats
Jennifer Nergard
Angela Rodi
Chad Selph
Richa Vijayvargiya


Class of 2018
Kristen Combs
Tim Legare
Trevor Mattox
Michael Povlow
Arash Rezaei
Stephen Rineer
James Sanders
Bryan Thiel
Katelyn Updyke
Elizabeth Wellings

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