Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

Alpha Omega Alpha is a national medical honor society which exists to recognize and perpetuate excellence in the field of medicine. As stated in its constitution, "Alpha Omega Alpha is organized for educational purposes exclusively and is not for profit; its aims are the promotion of scholarship and research in medical schools, the encouragement of a high standard of character and conduct among medical students and graduates, and the recognition of high attainment in medical science, practice, and related fields." In fulfilling these aims, the society elects medical students, alumni, and faculty to its ranks. AOA's goals are also reflected in its motto "worthy to serve the suffering."

AOA was founded in 1902 by William Webster Root and five other medical students at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago. In organizing the society, these individuals sought to foster honesty and develop higher ideals of scholastic achievement. Within a decade of founding, chapters were present at seventeen medical schools. The chapter at the University of Iowa (Alpha of Iowa) was established in 1920. The society has continued its steady growth and today counts 136 active chapters in the United States and Canada.

The following guidelines are used at UI for electing new members:

Medical Students

  1. The top 25% of the class is eligible for induction into AOA.  This is determined by the number of honors hours each student has earned. (Note: honors hours are calcluated using the semester hours of a course multiplied by 1 for Honors and 0.5 for Near Honors). 
  2. Students who meet the academic requirements are invited to complete an application.  A combination of honors hours and scored application are used to determine who is nominated. 
  3. On the application, students are requested to list their participation in the following areas:  leadership, service, and research/publications/ other scholarly activities.  Students are also asked to note participation in distinction track(s).
  4. The total number of initiates should not exceed one-fifth of the total number expected to graduate in that class.
  5. The total number selected for initiation in the spring of their junior year will not exceed one-half of the one-fifth of the total class (i.e., 1/10 of the total class). The remaining one-half of the initiates (one-tenth of the total class) will be initiated in the fall of their senior year.

Alumni Members

  1. Two alumni of the UI may be elected each year.
  2. Alumni members must have graduated from UI at least 10 years prior to election.

Faculty Members

  1. Two members of UI medical faculty may be elected each year.
  2. This initiate may hold either the M.D. or Ph.D. degree.

New initiates receive The Pharos, the quarterly AOA publication, along with a membership certificate.

The president is elected annually from the group of spring medical student initiates.