UConn AMA Chapter Promotes Student Wellness at Recipe Swap

  • Second-year medical students Alyssa Ettinger (right) and Sarah Mattessich (second from left) secured a grant from the American Medical Association to create a "Cooking Healthy on a Student Budget" event in the student lounge Nov. 13. Also pictured are classmates Yumi Kovic (left) and Evins Clauthier. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)
If time and money weren’t factors, eating healthy meals on a consistent basis would be pretty simple.

But for many medical students, time and money are often very limited, which can sabotage healthy eating habits.

Recognizing this, second-year medical students Alyssa Ettinger and Sarah Mattessich organized “Cooking Healthy on a Student Budget,” during which they and other second-year students prepared dishes and shared samples in the student lounge Friday.

“The idea is, what can we make for a meal for under $20, that might last for a week, that’s healthy,” Mattesich says.

Along with the samples were recipe instructions, including nutrition facts and cost.

“We want to show them it’s pretty easy if you know what to do with fresh foods,” Ettinger says. “Just showing a variety of ways to use ingredients for multiple different recipes, and even ways that you can make portions and freeze it for later, but at least the original food was fresher because you made it and you know what’s in it.”

Funding from the American Medical Association Section Involvement Grant program made Friday’s healthy cooking event possible.

“We are really proud of our students for applying for and attaining a grant to support this event,” says Dr. Suzanne Rose, UConn School of Medicine senior associate dean for education. “This initiative is part of our very important efforts to promote student wellness. We applaud our students’ initiative, creativity and their leadership in enhancing our school and fostering a warm, caring, and healthy environment.”

Ettinger and Mattesich are among the 10 second-year students who make up the UConn School of Medicine’s AMA chapter board.

“Our chapter is extremely active,” says Mattesich, who, as treasurer of the UConn AMA chapter, handles much of the grant writing. “We sponsor a lot of schoolwide activities that are really well attended. We’re one of the largest groups on our campus.”

Both students are also part of AMA’s Integrative Medicine Group, with Ettinger serving as student leader. They also are on the medical school’s newly formed student wellness committee.

“The wellness aspect of this event is a great way for our AMA chapter to contribute to UConn’s Student Wellness Initiative,” says Ettinger, whose role on the board is recruitment chair. “This also is an opportunity to have students learn more about the AMA, all the resources it gives and all the ways it contributes to student development.”

Med Students Hold Leadership Week, With AMA Support

Members of the UConn American Medical Association chapter's executive board.
Members of the UConn American Medical Association chapter’s executive board. Left to right, back: Alyssa Ettinger, Jonathan Lis, Chris Hampton, and Andrew Glick. Front: Elise Mester, Sarah Mattessich, and Christina Klecker. Not pictured: Victoria Greenwood. (Eric Swanson/UConn Health Photo)

It’s Leadership Week at the UConn School of Medicine, a series of events to provide a chance for students who envision themselves as leaders in medicine to share ideas with those who already are—in this case, members of the UConn Health faculty.

The annual tradition of UConn’s American Medical Association student section runs through Thursday. Among the participating faculty are Dr. Bruce Liang, medical school dean, as well as Drs. Paul Dworkin, Anton Alerte, Jane Grant-Kels and Rob Fuller.

“Leadership Week promotes AMA’s core value of leadership by providing an interactive forum for physicians and medical students to discuss pathways to leadership roles and professional development,” says Sarah Mattessich, one of the student organizers. “Last year this event was extremely successful. We had 80 students attend, and we are expecting similar numbers this year.”

Mattessich, a second-year medical student, serves as treasurer of the UConn chapter of the AMA. In that capacity she was able to secure a Section Involvement Grant from the AMA to help offset the costs of holding Leadership Week.

“Our grant will allow us to provide food for our series of events: one dinner and two lunch-and-learns,” Mattessich says. “Success of this event has been possible through the efforts of our entire executive board of second-year medical students. Jonathan Lis and Andrew Glick, the co-chairs of our AMA chapter, have been instrumental in executing this event, including recruiting physician speakers and advertising among the student body.”

Psychiatry professor Mary Casey Jacob, the chapter’s academic adviser, praises Mattessich for her efforts to coordinate this year’s event, by working closely with Lis and Glick and by obtaining the grant.

“This tells us Sarah wishes to provide this important service to her peers, that she is highly organized, and that she know she wants to be a leader within medicine,” Jacob says. “UConn is proud of students like Sarah, who will not only be excellent doctors but also people who nurture their roles within communities as leaders.”

Last year, the UConn chapter hosted the regional student AMA meeting. The year before, UConn’s was a finalist for Chapter of the Year.

“This is a very active and accomplished group,” Jacob says. “That they manage to achieve so much on top of medical studies is quite an achievement.”

AMA Honor for UConn Medical Student

Harrison Hayward, UConn School of Medicine Class of 2017, is a recipient of the American Medical Association Foundation Excellence in Medical Leadership Award. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)
Harrison Hayward, UConn School of Medicine Class of 2017, is a recipient of the American Medical Association Foundation Excellence in Medical Leadership Award. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health)

The American Medical Association Foundation has presented one of its 2015 Excellence in Medicine Leadership Awards to Harrison Hayward, a second-year student at the UConn School of Medicine.

Hayward is one of 10 medical students in the United States to receive the honor, which recognizes “strong, nonclinical leadership skills in advocacy, community service, public health and/or education.”

“I am endlessly grateful to the AMA for extending me this award, and to my family, friends, and medical school for all the support they’ve given me along the way,” Hayward says. “It’s an enormous honor to receive this recognition. I look forward to learning what I can from it and developing the right connections in order to be an even better physician in the future.”

The AMA Foundation recognized Hayward for founding a recreational support group for persons with disabilities and their families in the greater Hartford community, and for establishing himself as local Special Olympics program leader.

The award also acknowledges Hayward’s work abroad last summer. He was part of the Himalayan Health Exchange, a group that provided medical care to villagers in remote southern Himalayan settlements.

“We dealt with all sorts of things: infectious diseases, dermatological conditions, dental work, orthopedics, etc.,” he says.  “The expedition really solidified my passion for global health initiatives and has been a potent motivator for my work ever since.”

Hayward also is a board member of the  UConn School of Medicine Outreach Clinic at the South Park Inn, which provides free primary care medical services to the transient residents of the South Park Inn Shelter in Hartford.

Hayward is pursuing a career in surgery, and aspires to couple that with his interests in global health and care for the mentally disabled to be come a physician, educator, and leader in global health policy.

This year’s recipients of the AMA Foundation Excellence in Medical Leadership Award also included two residents, two early-career physicians, and one fellow.