While medical students focus on taking care of others, it’s also important for them to practice self-care. That's why the Well-Being Committee of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA plays a key role in 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."
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 particular scheduling challenges of year three. 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, such as campfires on the beach, laser-tag outings, skating parties and Zumba classes. Dr. Stuber's office hosts outdoor yoga classes every two months; they even provide water bottles and yoga mats. Pet therapy at exam time also helps calm students, who sometimes want nothing but a furry friend's company amid the rigors of medical school life.
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, such as 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. Dr. Stuber remembers the time students 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 recalls. "It was very creative and added some levity when people were studying for a tough exam."
By Darcy Lewis