Starting Your Chapter: First Steps

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

1. Get in touch with the National Membership Directors at membership@apamsa.org

The Membership Directors, Nancy Dong and Sammi Wu, 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 membership@apamsa.org

2. Chapter Constitution (DOWNLOAD) to membership@apamsa.org

3. Membership Roster (DOWNLOAD) to database@apamsa.org

4. $100 one-time startup fee: Pay via Paypal (www.paypal.com) by sending payment to membership@apamsa.org, or contact cfo@apamsa.org 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 database@apamsa.org 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 membership@apamsa.org 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 2016conference.apamsa.org for the latest info on the coming National APAMSA conference.