The Student Osteopathic Medical Association, better known as Pre-SOMA, was recently approved as a club for the 2019-2020 year, marking the return of the pre-med club which shut down several years ago.
“The goal of bringing this back is to have a very small and tight-knit pre-med organization that has a focus on volunteering, showing approval on what manipulative medicine is, having discussions and guest speakers and honing in on the fact that there are multiple ways to achieve a doctoral medical degree and giving a voice to students in (those) sorts of different sectors,” said Bartosz Skiba, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore who serves as the club’s new president.
Skiba said there is a need for an Osteopathic club since the University does not offer an Osteopathic-specific program of study. He hopes to bring in speakers from Rowan University, which has the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, to explain what studying Osteopathic medicine is like and delve into the topic.
“We have a physician shortage and if we advertise multiple ways for someone to be a doctor, the better (it is) for New Jersey as a whole,” he said.
The Pre-SOMA originally operated several years back, but the club’s presence fizzled out from leaders trickling away.
“The old Pre-SOMA club had entered frozen status due to a majority of its members graduating and moving on to medical/graduate programs,” said Sameer Ahmad, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore and club officer. “But, with all that being said the overarching goal of Pre-SOMA club is to encourage the creation of a small-knit community with more interpersonal relationships between all the members of the club.”
The Pre-SOMA club is expected to start in the Spring 2020 semester, with a 22-person roster of mostly first-year students which Skiba said hopes to grow.
"We haven't even been able to have a presence at something like the involvement fair yet, this was all spoken word of mouth and contacting students that we know,” he said.
Starting the club, though, is not without its struggles. Skiba said he concedes that starting Pre-SOMA as a full-time pre-med student could be challenging, but he envisions building something to sustain itself even when he leaves.
“I want something that will have a firm backbone in the Rutgers community, not something that will go away with the main officers graduating away,” he said. “The biggest concern is finding a way that's viable given that we have no experience starting a new organization with any real background of existing structures.”