After graduating magna cum laude with a psychology degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C., Shayna Norman felt at a loss.
“I didn’t really know what to do next,” Norman said. “I thought, ‘Well, I like to help people. And I like the human body. What about medical school?’”
A third-year MU medical student, Norman will be inaugurated in March as the national student president of the American Medical Women’s Association. Norman is the only student on the 19-person national board of physicians, which represents more than 10,000 female physicians and medical students across the country.
Established in 1915, the medical women’s, according to its Web site, is dedicated to “empowering women to lead in improving health for all within a model that reflects the unique perspective of women.” Norman joined MU’s chapter when she arrived in Missouri to attend medical school.
“When I joined, I was really excited to get involved, but I became disappointed,” she said. “We didn’t do anything. It was kind of a dying chapter. There was really no incentive to join.” With the hope of reviving the chapter, Norman decided to take a leadership role and turn things around. “I thought, If no one else is going to do something, I will,” she said.
Through activities and social events, such as a bake sale that raised more than $500 for cancer patients, student involvement in the local chapter has grown campuswide and the chapter gained recognition from the national association. Under Norman’s leadership, MU’s chapter of the medical women’s association quadrupled its membership during the 2005-06 school year.
“We’ve done a lot of work, a lot of good work,” Norman said.
As student president of the national organization, Norman wants to focus on the importance of championing the rights and health care needs of female patients. Norman stresses that though many people have questioned the need for a medical association devoted specifically to female doctors, she said she wants to “head AMWA in the direction of becoming more involved in the support and advocacy of female patients.” Norman also hopes to help students feel more connected to the larger, national chapter.
“Students feel disconnected from the national level,” she said. “I want to help them realize that they can get involved and make a difference. I’m going to focus on getting that connection, and urging people to get involved — urging women to take leadership roles.”