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Tuesday, December 03, 2013 - Women medical students win national acclaim early
Members of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine chapter of the American Medical Women's Association pose with inspirational women from Beaumont Health System during the "Women in Medicine: Celebrating Beaumont's Women Pioneers" event held last month.
Medical student Fatima Fahs knows that it takes more than strong academics and steady suturing to be a good doctor. It takes a myriad of qualities – compassion, commitment, leadership – found outside of the classroom.

Along with her classmates, Fahs is building this skill set through the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) chapter at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

“Being involved in an organization or extracurricular allows you to develop and refine qualities that cannot be learned from a book or taught in a classroom,” said Fahs, 2013-14 AMWA president.

“It is the act of engagement with fellow colleagues that surfaces the opportunity to reflect on your attributes and understand how to improve them. Being involved outside of academics teaches you time management, responsibility, qualities that make a good leader, and most importantly – qualities that make a good team player.”

Established just two years ago in the fall of 2011, the AMWA at OUWB has already garnered national recognition. The group has earned the Heller Outstanding Branch Award from the national organization for two consecutive years and hopes to earn the recognition again in March 2014. The award recognizes one branch annually that has made exceptional strides in programming and activities to support women.

The AMWA organization strives to advance women in medicine and improve women's health through developing leadership, advocacy, education, expertise, mentoring and building strategic alliances.

The first on-campus organization established at OUWB, the branch enjoys a high degree of involvement from its 74 members. Throughout the academic year, it hosts networking, community service, social and mentorship events benefiting members and the community.

“We have been blessed with extremely passionate members who are dedicated to advancing women leadership in medicine and a very hardworking executive board,” Fahs said.

“Our founding president, Amanda Xi, worked hard to develop our vision and mission. We commit a great amount of time outside of the classroom to organizing events such as local community service, mentoring, and physician networking for our members to directly benefit from.”

Xi, a University of Michigan engineering graduate from West Bloomfield, said she was driven to start the group as a result of her experience as a student in traditionally male-dominated field.

“Although the gender gap in medical schools is less pronounced, there’s a glass ceiling that still hasn’t been broken. Women’s leadership in medicine is still very depressed,” Xi explained.

“There are very few women occupying positions as deans or upper administration at hospitals. One of my passions is to inspire women to achieve leadership positions and work life balance.”

As the group moves forward under the leadership of Fatima Fahs, it aspires to direct more attention to local outreach, gender-specific healthcare, domestic violence and sexual assault.

“AMWA is proud of our national recognition and knows it is attributed to our hard work and dedication. To us, nothing is out of reach,” Fahs said.

“We hope our organization can also inspire others to push beyond what they know or expect. We are constantly in a state of reflection and refinement, which gives us the power to excel.”