October 17, 2023

Jason Noah seeks to develop student leaders and amplify student voices

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Jason Noah webJason Noah, director of Student Success Programs in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, received one of nine inaugural Dean’s Excellence Awards for Staff last month. Reflecting on the meaning of this award, Noah noted the support he has received and the successful environment surrounding him in the Department of Medical Education. He sees himself as one small part of a larger mission to develop student leaders and commit to their lifelong success.

Noah began working in Medical Student Services (MSS) in 2013 and has seen the department grow substantially in that time. From the beginning, his goal has been to foster a connection between student and Medical Education leadership by establishing trust and creating effective communication channels for students.

“I am proud of Heersink School of Medicine being an institution that consults its students and asks them to be part of decision-making processes,” Noah says. “If we’re going to have student leaders and want good ideas, we must involve them. That’s why we created the monthly student senate meeting with Medical Education leadership. That’s the purpose of our student task forces. These avenues give students real teeth in the game and make them feel heard.”

The Student Senate meeting allows for medical student officers in each class to dialogue with deans, faculty, and staff from different Medical Education areas. It provides a space to ask questions or receive clarification on policies, to hear updates on school changes, or to present student perspectives on current issues. As a part of establishing these meetings, Noah is thrilled to see the level of trust that has been forged through them over the years.

Noah also works to coordinate the milestone events for UAB medical students. These include Commencement, Match Day, New Student Orientation, and White Coat Ceremony. Noah aims for each of these events to focus on the students and highlighting their successes. He sees the events as a piece of developing the students’ professional identities. “These milestones are important to celebrate,” he says. “They help students feel more connected to the medical community at large. They build comradery with fellow students going through the same processes and overcoming the same challenges. They are symbolic, but they matter because they help students mark their progress in the journey to become doctors.”

In the area of the UAB Learning Communities (LC) program, Noah created a student leadership program to ensure that the LCs were student-centered with high levels of student engagement. As a result, UAB Heersink School of Medicine has become a national model for student leadership in learning communities. Noah has served on the leadership council of the LCI since 2015, as co-chair of the LCI national meeting in 2017, and as the first non-faculty chair of the LCI organization from 2020-2022.

Helping students as a part of MSS is what Noah always points back to as crucial. All the events, programs, or initiatives funnel into the mission of developing students and amplifying their successes. Within MSS, he hopes to establish meaningful connections with MS1s and MS2s so that when they enter their third and fourth years, they remember MSS is still there to help them with whatever they need. He does not want them arriving in those critical final two years of undergraduate medical education and feeling lost or alone.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we are creating a place where students feel known and cared for,” Noah says. “That’s always the driving force. We can never stop doing that.”