American Medical Women’s Association empowers students in health care

Photo courtesy of Baylor American Medical Women’s Association

By Megan Hale | Reporter

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) is a national organization focused on empowering women to pursue careers in health care. AMWA strives to promote a healthier world through leadership, advocacy, support and education.

According to the Baylor AMWA website, the national organization was founded in 1915 and is the oldest multi-specialty organization focused on the advancement of women in medicine.

“AMWA, in general, is just a really great organization for pre-health students to be surrounded and supported by other students that are experiencing the same challenges,” Katy senior and AMWA service chair Makenna Meyers said.

Baylor AMWA seeks to equip women pursuing health care vocations by providing them with opportunities to shadow professionals in their chosen field, learn from guest speakers, connect with female students who share similar interests and give back to the community through service.

The organization also greatly emphasizes the importance of mentorship. Through internal mentorship, Baylor female pre-health students learn from upperclassmen and peers.

“There are so many seniors and juniors in AMWA who have been role models to me over the past year and a half, and I have no doubt that much of my personal growth and academic growth is due to their encouragement and example,” Centennial, Colo., sophomore and AMWA social chair Katie Steele said via email. “Now, as more freshmen begin to join and we enter into another semester, I feel so honored to be able to share some of my wisdom with them. It’s a never-ending cycle.”

Baylor AMWA recently implemented an external mentorship opportunity for members through a partnership with Rocky Vista College of Medicine.

“A lot of the times, our guest speakers have been well-seasoned in the field and provide great insight and inspiration, but it’s kind of nice having someone that’s closer in age and closer in the journey,” Carlsbad, Calif., senior and AMWA president Daniela Zirkle said.

AMWA plans to bring in physical therapists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, audiologists, health care administrators, genetic counselors and more so that students have the chance to gain exposure to the variety of careers health care offers.

“We bring in guest speakers for every general meeting,” Zirkle said. “I’ve made it this year’s goal to make sure it’s as diverse as possible.”

Many students pursuing health care vocations see the field as a way to serve, and AMWA greatly prioritizes its service component as well.

“Service is great for anyone, but for the health care field in general, I mean, you’re signing up for a life of service,” Meyers said. “Hopefully, that’s why you want to go into the health care field. That’s really what you’re doing for a living; you’re choosing to help people and to help people foster healthier lives and improve relationships.”

Members are required to consistently serve the Waco community through numerous organizations, including Mission Waco, The Humane Society, CareNet, Pack of Hope, Compassion Ministries and Habitat for Humanity.

“On those weekly service days, you form really strong connections with the girls that you are serving with,” Meyers said. “It’s a nice way to interact with your peers outside of the classroom setting.”

Since it is a medium-sized organization, members benefit from having access to many of the same resources and opportunities that are provided to larger organizations, while emphasizing the values of a smaller, tight-knit community.

“I decided to join this organization because when I was a freshman, I saw the girls who were leading in the organization, and I wanted to be just like them,” Steele said. “They all were not only accomplished academically, but they also were so approachable, wise and great role models to me.”