Chapter Handbook

Starting a New Chapter - First Steps

Starting a New Chapter? We're here to help.

1. Get in touch with the National Membership Directors at

The Membership Directors are familiar with the ins and outs of starting a chapter and is here to help your chapter be a success story.

2. Find Support

After you’ve learned more about APAMSA, schedule a “founders” meeting with any and everyone at your school who might be interested in joining our mission to advocate for the health and well being of Asian Pacific Americans. Get a group of people together to brainstorm ideas about some of the issues you feel are important at your school and come up with ideas about how you might address these issues. It is imperative that you recruit first year medical students to ensure the longevity of your school’s chapter.

3. Submit your paperwork

Once you have a core group of “founders” who are committed to forming an APAMSA chapter at your school, send: 

1. Chapter Charter Application (DOWNLOAD) to

2. Chapter Constitution (DOWNLOAD) to

3. Membership Roster (DOWNLOAD) to

4. $100 one-time startup fee: Pay via Paypal ( by sending payment to, or contact if you would like to mail a check.

These forms can also be found on the "Forms" tab of this website.

4. Get connected

Get connected with everyone else. Submit your membership roster to so that your members will be enrolled into the national mailing list.

5. Find a Faculty Advisor

The advisor can be the most important member of your organization as she/he is the only guarantee of continuity. As with all organizations it is inevitable to have periods of activity that wax and wane over the years. The advisor can keep the organization alive through these periods. Thus, it is important to identify an advisor who will play an active role in the organization and has some experience in guiding new and young organizations. The advisor does not need to be a physician but should understand the issues and problems a physician would face. If you need help with identifying a potential advisor, consider asking your Dean of Student Affairs or your Office of Minority Affairs. For extremely supportive advisors who may want to get involved on the national level, consider nominating him or her for the National APAMSA’s Physician’s Advisory Board.

6. Apply for Recognition from your School's Student Government

Each school has their unique way of recognizing a new student organization. Usually your school’s Medical Student Government/Council oversees this. If they don’t, the Student Affairs Office should. Some schools offer club grants and startup funds so it’s a good idea to be recognized. Also don’t limit yourself to your medical school’s student government. Many schools also have a Graduate Student Council as well as a general student government that oversees all student organizations (including undergraduate organizations). Consider joining these as well to open more doors of opportunity.

7. Develop a structure for your officers and members

Starting a new chapter can be a daunting task, so developing one with the help of a core group of members can ease your burden. If you’re having trouble finding members, ask your advisor if he/she knows of some students that may believe in your vision. Spread the word by emailing potential members an APAMSA flyer. E-mail for recruitment materials. Decide on a government structure. Consider a normal officer structure (Pres, VP, etc.) or one with different chairs to share the responsibility (i.e. the Yale structure listed in the example constitution.)

8. Plan your first meeting

The first meeting will be one of your most important meetings, as it requires an intensive recruitment effort. This is your time to shine. It’s your moment to convince your school the need for an APAMSA chapter. Some ideas for this first meeting are as follows:

a. Schedule early in the semester. You’ll be competing with the limited time that medical students have to devote to extracurricular activities. Also be conscious of both 1st and 2nd year class schedules as well as other well-established organization’s meetings (i.e. AMA, AMSA, etc) to find the optimal time for your meetings. Many schools have orientation packets for incoming students which you may request to add an APAMSA flyer.

b. Even before the semester starts, a personalized letter on APAMSA letterhead (contact the Membership VP for APAMSA’s official letterhead file) to the new incoming students can really attract some new members. Be sure to include a membership application form (download from website) to get them signed up even before starting school. Your Office of Admissions will usually give you a list of incoming APA students if requested.

c. Announce the meeting well in advance (1 week minimum) to avoid potential last minute conflicts with other medical student activities. Also give yourself time so you can reserve rooms and order food.

d. Announce your meetings via numerous mediums (email, class announcements, flyers, student government, chalk boards, etc.) to try to contact as many potential members as possible. Try to have some free food to attract members as free food is the easiest way to attract an audience.

9. Run your first meeting

a. Pass out applications for APAMSA membership or direct them to the APAMSA website for the online membership application.

b. Remind members that national APAMSA registration is FREE.

c. Plan out what you want to do for this first year. An easy community service project that most of APAMSA’s chapters do their first year is a bone marrow drive or the hepatitis B awareness project. More information can be obtained from our website and MVP.

d. Announce officer elections if you don’t have one already.

e. Have at least the next scheduled meeting ready to announce (even better if you can have the whole semester scheduled to lock in dates, reserve rooms, and avoid conflicts with other organizations’ meetings). f. It would be advantageous to have someone, preferably the chapter secretary, to write down minutes for meetings. This way you may email your discussions to interested members who were unable to attend and keep them “in the loop.”

10. Funrdraise

While this is one of the most essential factors for a successful organization, it is also one of the toughest and time-consuming projects. Check out some tips from successful chapters. Please see the fundraising section.

11. Plan projects and events

Look through the Chapter Project section. APAMSA has numerous ideas to help you plan out initial projects to get your new organization going. The ideas range from minimal planning to ones that’ll take a good few months to work. Use this guide to help plan out the entire year. APAMSA is also interested in hearing about new successful events from local chapters.

Share your event photos on national social media channels.

12. Get in touch with your Regional Directors

Your regional directors can update you on upcoming intra-region events (i.e. regional conferences, regional school get-togethers, etc.) and National business. The regional directors are also your primary contact and advocate for questions or problems relating to National activities. Let them know you’re the contact for your school so you can be welcomed to your region!

13. Attend the National Conference

Some perks:

a. The conference schedules some of the top APA leaders within the country year after year to speak and present workshops. It’s an amazing experience to meet and learn from these dynamic speakers over a variety of topics.

b. If you’re having problems recruiting members and getting current ones to be active, attend the conference and invigorate your membership. The conference is the best way to learn about APAMSA and find out how APAMSA can help you.

c. Networking and making new friends with APAMSA members who share the same vision and goals as you makes the conference worthwhile.

d. Get involved on the National level. The conference is where national officers, standing committee chairs, and regional directors are elected.

e. The conference is also where the annual National Business Meeting takes place. This is where your chapter gets an update on what’s happening with National and has a say in directing APAMSA’s future, including national elections. The business meeting is also where your chapter can present a resolution or amendment to the constitution. National APAMSA could not exist without the support and participation of you, the local chapter.

f. Check out for the latest info on the coming National APAMSA conference.

Event Ideas

Community Service Events

Bone Marrow Registration Drives

This is a well-established APAMSA project. APA bone marrow registrants are severely underrepresented in the National Bone Marrow registry. Join our national effort to save lives. Contact the APAMSA bone marrow chair for more info, at

Hepatitis B Immunizations

Another signature APAMSA project. Hepatitis B is a devastating illness that affects millions of APAs and is completely preventable with immunizations. Join us in our quest to eliminate this “silent killer.” Contact the APAMSA hepatitis chair for more info,

APAMSA’s Fight to Break the Hep B Cycle: Hepatitis B is a devastating illness that affects millions of APAs. Asians have the highest rate of hepatitis B infection of all ethnic groups. One out of 4 people with chronic hepatitis B virus infection who became chronically infected during childhood will die of HBV-related liver cancer or cirrhosis. That’s 100 million of the 400 million chronic HBV infected people in the world. Hepatitis B is a completely preventable disease through vigorous education, screenings, and immunizations. Join us in our quest to break the Hepatitis B Cycle by participating in APAMSA’s Fight in your community! Contact the APAMSA Hepatitis B Chair for more information:

Community Health Fairs

APAMSA health fairs are the trademark event at most of our local chapters. This is where you can utilize your cultural understanding and medical knowledge to offer free cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, vision, hearing, and lead screening of the APA community. Some schools also have assisted recent immigrants from Asian countries as well as other uninsured members of the community to find primary care physicians. In addition, health fairs serve as an important mechanism to disseminate health information regarding cancer, smoking, domestic violence, and many more topics through brochures and counseling services, which we are able to offer in multiple different languages. Take an active role in health care access in your community. Location is key so do some research about where you might be able to reach the most people.


Organize a fundraiser to help an important cause. APAMSA chapters have been instrumental in raising money for the Tsunami victims, the Hurricane disasters, the South Asian earthquake victims, orphanages in China, and much more.

Be a Kid

Children in the hospital need company, and maybe their parents need a break. It doesn’t have to be fancy: play a board game, play some cards, read a book to them. This is a great idea for those who don’t have a lot of time to commit.

Mentorship Initiatives

Big Sib Little Sib

You know more than you think. If you’re a second year medical student, help out a first year. If you’re a first year, help a pre-med fill out their applications. If you’re a pre-med, help a high school student understand what it takes to go to college and open their eyes to many facets of health care.

Faculty Student Dinners

These are a great way to encourage interaction between APA students and physicians. Have a series of dinners with different APA faculty members and ask them to speak about their experiences being Asian in medicine.

Academic Events

Organize a mock anatomy/pathology/histology exam

Be a resource to your classmates with old exam questions, review books, texts, etc. Boards and Wards: Pivotal transitions occur at the end of 2nd year when students begin to think about the national boards and adjusting to life in the hospital. Upper-class students, especially fourth years who have gone through the process including matching are invaluable resources. Invite the upper-class students to your meetings to share their experiences.

AAPI Health Care

There are innumerable topics that can be addressed including hepatitis B, mental health, domestic violence, etc. within the Asian American community. Speakers can be local resources or from neighboring cities. Often these events can be cosponsored with other groups to ease the cost of funding.

Organize a Conference

This is an ambitious project that can supplement your medical school’s training of future physicians. APAMSA conferences are some of the most effective mechanisms to bring together medical students, physicians, and health care professionals to learn about issues APA health. This is an opportunity to really enhance your school’s curriculum and further APAMSA’s mission statement. Contact if your chapter is interested in hosting an APAMSA conference. It is important to bid early for hosting the national or regional conferences.

Social Events

Potluck Dinner and Movie

A cheap, easy, and fun opportunity to show off your culinary talents and to allow upper and lower-class students to know each other. It’s best to host this event at an officer’s house that can hold a lot of members.

Inter-school mixer

This brings together APA students from the other graduate schools (law, arts, management). It can be held at a local bar or at someone's place. Usually the groups at the respective schools contribute monetarily.

Eating Out

This activity works well for small and secluded schools. The organization arranges for a discounted price at a local Asian restaurant and provides transportation. Students are responsible for their own bills. Those who hate to cook or who have no food in the fridge are sure to come.

Night on the Town

This is a more elaborate event sponsored by a number of different APA medical school groups. It works well in the big cities or where there are a lot of different medical schools in a close proximity.

Cultural Events

Ring in the New Year

Both Diwali (the Indian New Year) and Lunar New Year can be celebrated by your organization. It can either be a small-scale event or a large school wide party (usually supported by funding from your schools governing council). Both celebrations are often celebrated with food, ethnic dress, and music. It allows the community to not only take pride but to share its culture with others.

Alternative Medicine

All Asian ethnic groups have some history of alternative healing practices whether it be acupuncture, aryuvedic, herbalistic, or spiritual. Increasing numbers of non-Asians are interested in this topic as well. A speaker not only can educate APA students about their heritage and history of healing, it can also clarify widely held misconceptions as well. Some schools have also created displays on alternative healing methods (herbs, instruments, healers) in conjunction with the talk.

Talent Show

Your classmates are guaranteed to surprise you with their hidden talents for poetry, singing, dancing, comedy, etc. There’s more to med students than just studying...

Political Events

Voter Registration Drive

There are numerous ways to obtain registration forms: volunteer services in the hospital, undergraduate political parties and local elections office (in the phone book).

Immigration Forums

Not since 1965 have there been such dramatic legislative change in the arena of immigration. Ranging from restrictions on social services to immigrants to financial aid for non-citizen students, these bills will have a significant impact on the US. These forums can be informative only or can serve as the basis for a debate on the issues immigration reform raises, especially the role of the physician-to-be in serving as the “gate-keeper" to access to health care.

Affirmative Action Forum

Perhaps no other issue divides APA medical students as much as affirmative action. For many years, APA students in all forums of higher education have felt a quota or glass ceiling placed on their admissions, especially in medicine. Some schools have successfully gathered information on admissions or have engaged their deans/directors of admissions on this issue. This forum can be an opportunity to present some of the data to the community and to raise some important issues such as admissions stereotypes of the APA applicant. It can also serve as a springboard for a broader discussion of Affirmative Action. (This can be a particularly divisive issue)

Discrimination in Academic Medicine

As more and more APA medical students become interested in academic medicine as a career, the overt and subtle barriers to tenure are apparent. A panel of faculty members at various stages of the tenure track progress and in different fields (clinical vs. basic science) can address this issue.

Chapter Leadership Tips

Tips on Being a Great Officer


Frequent communication is key to the success of any organization. Even when it feels like no one is reading your e-mail updates, keep sending them. Importantly, STAY IN CONTACT WITH NATIONAL APAMSA. Check Slack. Keep your regional directors and the national officers posted about your events. Please send in your chapter profile EACH time your chapter has elections. This will ensure you do not lose contact with National APAMSA.

Recruit First Years

2. Recruit First years! First years are essential for the longevity and success of the APAMSA chapter at your school. Some suggestions for increasing first year involvement: • Send an intro to APAMSA letter to all accepted students before they arrive in the Fall. Many schools send out packets of information to their students and often will ask student groups if they’d like to include recruitment materials. • Get involved with recruiting. When students come to visit for interviews or for revisits have APAMSA members get involved with some of the recruiting events, such as dinners, parties, or other social activities so people can get a feel for what APAMSA is before they arrive for medical school. • Have elections/appoint one or more APAMSA 1st year reps onto your executive board. Also, appoint first years to coordinate some of your projects—such as health fairs, Diwali, lunar new years, etc….

Don't limit your recruitment to East or South Asian students

"Take concerted steps to promote recruitment from the South Asian community. In this regard, it may help to publicize that APAMSA is the only NATIONAL organization which provides representation for ALL Asian-American medical students. Also, we suggest your APAMSA chapter work with existing South Asian organizations in the area, whether in terms of jointly planning events, cross-publicizing each others' functions, or both. Locally, these steps will help you to build a stronger APAMSA chapter, and nationally, they will also serve the deeper purpose of helping to unite the Asian community -- a step that will be vital in drawing this country's attention to Asian-American health issues!"

Publicize early and comprehensively

The success of any event requires that you advertise what you are going to do to the community you’re targeting. Contact your local school newspaper or local Asian community newspapers about your events, ie health fairs, regional conferences, bone marrow drives, Hep B projects. Getting your chapter 8 recognized by the press is not only good for APAMSA as a whole, but the rewards for your local chapter are tremendous. The deans of your medical school will be thrilled to know that your chapter is representing your school so well. When it comes time to ask them for funding, they will take your recognized efforts into account.

Be energetic and passionate about your position

Serving as an APAMSA chapter officer is an incredible honor. You are in a position to educate and serve your community. Remember that members of APAMSA are in a unique position to do something about eliminating health disparities in the APA community, so please participate in our National Service Projects to eliminate Hepatitis B and increase the Bone Marrow Donor Registrants. As an organization who understands and associates ourselves with Asian cultures, we have a responsibility to use our cultural understanding and our medical knowledge to improve the health and well-being of our communities.

Annual Officer Timeline

Congratulations on being elected a chapter officer, here’s a timeline to guide you through the year. Here’s a timeline of events to help guide you through the year. Feel free to adapt it so it meets the needs of your chapter.

Late Spring/Summer Timeline

After being elected, make sure you speak to the old officers and get their old files and advice about how to be a good officer.

1. Submit your Chapter Profile with the new officer contacts at Get the supplies, financial reports, and other contacts from previous officers.

2. Register your new officers with your Student Activities office, if you can.

3. Include a welcome letter from APAMSA in the new student’s packet mailer, if your school permits.

4. Subscribe yourself to the chapter officers list serv by registering here:

5. During the summer, prepare your recruitment supplies such as fliers and posters so you can post them when new students arrive.

Early Fall Semester

Everyone’s now back at school and things are moving fast.

1. Plan on recruitment activities

2. Hold your first general meeting. Check out the Chapter Officer Tools and Educational Resources at for recruiting materials.

3. Prepare ahead to attend the national conference.

4. Elect first year officers—UPDATE New officer information by submitting a chapter profile at

5. Subscribe yourself to the list serv:

6. Register with your group with Student Activities office if you haven’t already.

7. Represent your chapter at your Student Activities Fair

Late Fall Semester

National Conference is usually in the Fall

1. Announce if your chapter is going to National Conference this year, and solicit attendees

2. Get the Treasurer to file for Travel Funds with your school

3. Look for sample Fundraising Letters and Fundraising idea documents at the Chapter Resources page.

4. Book your flights, accommodations, and make sure your attendees have registered for the National Conference ahead of time.

5. Submit proposed amendments to the Constitution, Letters of Intent, CV if you want to run for National Positions or change the Constitution.

6. Turn in First Bi-Annual Chapter report to the MVP.

At National Conference:

1. Attend the workshops and keynote talks, bond with your chapter, see the sights!

2. Run for National or Regional Office, talk about APIA health, and have FUN!

Late Fall/ Winter

1. Get in contact with your newly elected Regional Directors. Contact for their contact inf.

2. Try and hold an observance for Diwali

3. Start planning to participate in the National Hepatitis B campaign and Bone Marrow Drive.

Spring Semester

1. Participate in the National Hepatitis B campaign and Bone marrow drive.

2. Stay tuned for info from your regional directors to participate in regional conferences.

3. Try and observe the Asian Lunar New Year, which is usually around January/February.

4. REQUIRED Chapter Reports will be due early (February or March) this semester.

Late Spring

1. Hold elections for new chapter officers and do your best to give them as much information as possible, so that your APAMSA chapter can remain active.