Three students from the Infectious Diseases Interest Group at Wayne State University School of Medicine were invited by the Infectious Diseases Society of America Foundation to present the group’s Vaccine Ambassador Program at the organization’s IDWeek in Washington, D.C.
Soham Desai, Sofia Howson and Jennifer Schmidt are MD candidates for the class of 2026.
“When I got the invite, I was instantly ecstatic,” Schmidt said. “Unlike many professions, infectious diseases are not fully represented in medical school. It is a communion and therefore an aspect of the future instead of the present. However, going to IDWeek made it even more real. In one place, there were hundreds of infectious disease doctors with such complex backgrounds, including tropical and rural medicine. Throughout the week, we were able to chat with them, learn about their research and their goals for the future. We were able to discover new therapies and immerse ourselves in complex cases. During those times, it was so uplifting to understand their insights and apply what Wayne State University School of Medicine taught us. It also gave me enthusiasm for the future and confirmed my love for the field.
Presented annually, IDWeek took place from October 19-23. The joint meeting of IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medical Association, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists provides attendees with access to leaders in the field and opportunity to network with highly respected healthcare professionals. .
Schmidt, Howson and Desai are mentored by Teena Chopra, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases.
She is also an educational advisor for the Infectious Diseases Interest Group and in June piloted Vaccine Ambassadors, a two-year program supported by a $60,000 grant from the Detroit Medical Center Foundation that educates Detroit high school students during the summer to become ambassadors for the promotion of vaccination. . The students of the School of Medicine’s interest group are the ambassador’s trainers.
Prior to attending ID Week, medical students participated in IDSA’s mentorship program, which connected them with infectious disease physicians. The program extended into the week of the conference, including a mentoring luncheon and another social gathering.
“I think this was a great addition to my training at Wayne State University School of Medicine. By attending the various case studies at IDWeek, I was able to follow what the doctors were saying, and it was incredibly rewarding to knowing that I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in medical school,” Desai said.
During the events, students networked with medical students, residents, fellows and program directors.
“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend ID Week and be part of a large community of highly intelligent infectious disease physicians across the country,” Desai added. “I was able to learn so much about the various diseases that infectious disease physicians see on a daily basis, as well as how the field itself permeates all specialties of medicine. It was an experience that further heightened my interest in infectious diseases.
The IDSA Foundation also asked the students about their mentorship with Dr. Chopra, the interest group and the Vaccine Ambassadors program.
“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and present at ID Week,” Howson said. “While I was there, I was able to attend conferences and network with other infectious disease physicians working across the country. I was thrilled to realize that as a doctor of identification, there are many opportunities and pathways for you to practice medicine, whether through public health, global health, clinical work or research.The door open where your options to practice medicine are limitless, especially because the field is constantly evolving and will always be needed.
The trio of medical students attended numerous lectures and poster presentations focusing on recent innovations, discoveries and challenging cases in the field.
“It’s been a great addition to my upbringing here,” Howson added. “I especially enjoyed the opportunity to take the medical knowledge I learned in medical school and apply it to the case studies I participated in during Identification Week. It was a great way to confirm that all the hard work we’re putting in now is definitely paying off.
Throughout the week, they gained new insight into the field of infectious diseases while discussing their own recent contributions.
“Through opportunities like IDWeek, we can grow outside of the classroom both professionally and academically,” Schmidt said. “I’ve expanded the knowledge I learned at Wayne State and applied it to current clinical experiences. I also acquired essential skills such as networking and discovered different academic activities. Overall, I’m glad I was able to have this opportunity and hope to be able to participate in the future.