Medical education must provide students with a delicate balance of academic rigor, equity, and wellness. While the medical education community espouses all these values, the authors believe the way medical students are evaluated and rewarded undermines equity and wellness. Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AΩA) membership is arguably the highest honor that a medical student can achieve. In the short term, it opens doors to the most selective training opportunities, and in the long term, ushers students into an elite group of future physician leaders. Yet recent data have demonstrated that AΩA is disproportionately awarded to white students.
At Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), the authors observed that students underrepresented in science and medicine were persistently underrepresented among those selected for AΩA. They describe efforts at ISMMS to reduce bias in the selection process and the ultimate decision to suspend medical student selection for AΩA altogether. The authors argue that selection to AΩA reinforces the structural biases and social privilege that are embedded in medical education and undermines the ability to deliver an educational experience that has as its core tenets equity and wellness. Suspending participation in student selection for AΩA is an important step toward recognizing that medical school learning environments continue to privilege white students over students who are underrepresented in medicine.