Going to medical school is all about learning to take care of others, but practicing self-care is important, too. That's why the Well-Being Committee of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has stepped up to assume a key role in UCLA student health.
The Well-Being Committee is an elected group of students charged with promoting student health and well-being via inclusive, on-campus events. "They plan events for their individual classes, then team up to plan events for the entire medical school, too," says Margaret Stuber, MD, assistant dean of student affairs for well-being and career advising. "The committee is very much student-run. I just provide funding and infrastructure to support the activities."
Membership and popular events
The Well-Being Committee is composed of two student well-being representatives per class year. The third-year class may also choose an alternate representative to accommodate the schedule challenges that medical students typically face during that year. Any student interested in promoting UCLA student health is welcome to run for election. "The first-year students arrive on campus in August, so we give them a little time to settle in before holding the election in September," says Dr. Stuber. "Once they're on the committee, people tend to want to stay on it because they enjoy it so much."
Popular events include fun stress-relievers like campfires on the beach, laser-tag outings, skating parties and Zumba classes. Dr. Stuber's office hosts outdoor yoga classes every two months for all-comers, complete with water bottles and yoga mats. Pet therapy at exam time also helps to ease the stress for students, who sometimes want nothing more than a furry friend to keep them company amid the rigors of medical school life.
Helping yourself by serving others
According to Dr. Stuber, two of the most popular events each year are the school-wide pumpkin carving and Halloween costume contests. What she's most proud of, however, are the events that include a service component — such as the Valentine's Day letter-writing event to community members who've suffered losses, or the combined Thanksgiving feast/canned-food drive.
At the school-wide annual day of service, medical students band together to perform activities like assembling kits of basic supplies to distribute within the homeless community. "The David Geffen School of Medicine is known for its commitment to and curricular focus on the medical needs of underserved populations, including the homeless of Los Angeles," Dr. Stuber says. "Students will find many opportunities to be of service [to LA's less-fortunate communities]."
Class-specific events and activities are popular, too. One that stands out in Dr. Stuber's mind was the time a class made fortune cookies for fellow classmates as a communal study-break treat. "The 'fortunes' were all puns [about] the names of bones and muscles because this happened during the musculoskeletal block," she remembers. "It was very creative and added some levity when people were studying for a tough exam."
By Darcy Lewis