Alpha Omega Alpha at the University of North Carolina
Alpha Omega Alpha, founded in 1902, is a medical honor society dedicated to the belief that we can improve care for all by recognizing high educational achievement, honoring gifted teaching, encouraging the development of leaders in academia and the community, supporting the ideals of humanism, and promoting service to others. Election to Alpha Omega Alpha signifies a lasting commitment to scholarship, leadership, professionalism, and service. Membership in the society confers recognition of someone’s dedication to the profession and art of healing. UNC’s chapter of AOA was founded in 1954 and is proud to induct new medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, and alumni into the chapter each year.
Eligibility for Student Nomination
Historically, for medical students, those with scholastic qualifications that place them in the upper 30% of the class were eligible for AOA nomination. However, beginning with the Spring 2023 election, grades will no longer be considered a criterion for eligibility. All students who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply. Each year, two elections are held – Junior AOA (Spring) and Senior AOA (Fall). Each year, 25% of the total number of the class expected to graduate may be inducted.
To be considered eligible for Spring 2024 elections, students must:
(1) Complete Application Phase by February 16, 2024 OR be a FIRST student graduating in Spring 2024
(2) Be enrolled in the School of Medicine. Students participating in a dual degree program or a research year are not eligible during their leave of absence, but are eligible during the spring before they start their graduate school program or research year, or in the fall prior to graduating when they are re-enrolled as School of Medicine students. To clarify, for the fall election, students are only eligible for AOA induction in the fall immediately prior to their graduation.
Clarification for LOA students:
Students are only eligible for induction into AOA twice: the Spring (Junior AOA) immediately FOLLOWING Application Phase and the Fall (Senior AOA) immediately PRIOR to the student’s graduation. For example, a student who started medical school as a member of the Class of 2024 who then took one research year between 3rd and 4th year is eligible for Junior AOA in Spring 2023 and Senior AOA in Fall 2024. Alternatively, Class of 2025 students who plan to take an LOA are eligible in the Junior AOA election in Spring 2024 and the Senior AOA election in Fall of 2025.
If you are unsure about your eligibility status, please contact AOA Student President & Vice President at UNCMedAOA@gmail.com.
Students will be notified by email about an upcoming election. For the Spring 2024 election, please expect an email with application instructions by early February. To be considered for induction, students must provide the following:
(1) Updated standardized CV. Note that this CV should be anonymized and should NOT contain undergraduate or graduate education information other than what is requested. We ask that you format according to the instructions in the template and do not include your name anywhere in the document itself. Please submit your CV as a word document with the file name “AOA_CV_LASTNAME.”
(2) Responses to the 3 essay prompts provided, which should not exceed 150 words each
(3) Completed consent form
Applicants are reviewed by a committee of faculty and students in a two-phase process. The faculty on the committee are chosen each year from UNC SOM faculty, fellows, and residents who have previously been elected to AOA. The students on the committee are the medical students who are currently members of AOA. During the first phase, one faculty member and one student review each medical student candidate’s CV using a standardized rubric.
These reviewers evaluate the student based on scholarly activities, leadership capabilities, demonstrated professionalism, and a record of service to the school and community. The evaluation criteria was recently further revised to include a focus on activities that advance the standing of underserved groups. Should evaluations of the reviewers differ significantly, another reviewer will submit an evaluation.
In the second phase of reviewing, essay responses will be reviewed. During this phase, Application Phase grades will also be considered, but their contribution to overall scores is minimal. CV evaluations and essay responses are presented to voting members at semi-annual elections. The students with the most votes are nominated for membership.
Candidates are also evaluated based on their ethical standards, ability to deal fairly with colleagues, and demonstrated professionalism. Any candidate with a record of professionalism offense may be removed from consideration for AOA by the selection committee and/or the Dean of Student Affairs.
Residents, fellows, alumni, and faculty are nominated for membership by voting members at the election meetings according to similar criteria of academic achievement, leadership, professionalism, and service. For residents, fellows, and faculty, special attention is given to excellence in the teaching of medical students. Alumni of UNC are eligible for nomination after ten or more years following graduation. The number of each of these four groups that is eligible for nomination depends on the size of the medical school class.
Resident/Fellow, Faculty, and Alumni Nominations
Our AOA chapter may elect Residents/Fellows, Faculty, and Alumni who have never previously been elected to AOA. Nationally, AOA bases Resident/Fellow, Faculty, and Alumni elections on medical school class size. For a medical school of UNC’s size we are able to elect a maximum of 25 resident members, 10 faculty members, and 5 alumni members each year. Specific eligibility requirements are included below.
- Must have completed their first year of residency at time of induction
- Must show commitment to and excellence in teaching medical students
- Must be UNC School of Medicine faculty
- Do not need an MD, but must have a post-doctoral degree (PhD, PharmD, EdD, DO, MD)
- Faculty who receive no direct monetary compensation from the school of medicine but teach students are eligible
- Must have graduated from UNC with a Doctor of Medicine degree
- Must have been graduated for 10+ years
Nominated parties will be evaluated for continued academic and professional achievement, leadership, professionalism, service, teaching, and research. Elections for Residents/Fellows, Faculty, and Alumni happen once a year, in the spring.
Statement on Diversity in AOA
The UNC chapter of AOA is committed to recognizing the work and achievements of our diverse student body. We have worked diligently to continually make the election process more objective and to recognize and remove potential opportunities for bias. Per the national AOA website, “AΩA advocates for diversity in all its forms when identifying candidates for nomination – identity, cultural, geographic, experiential, race, ethnicity, gender, age, economic and social status, physical abilities, aptitude, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and other ideologies.”
In early 2022, the UNC chapter launched an Equity Task Force to critically review AOA’s processes, assess how AOA can best serve the goal of promoting equity in medical education, and evaluate the role of AOA within the School of Medicine. To participate in Task Force meetings, please contact UNCMedAOA@gmail.com.