Donna Elliott, MD, EdD, recently appointed vice dean for medical education at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and chair of the Department of Medical Education, continues to receive recognition for her work in student affairs. Elliott has been named the 2018 recipient of the Exemplary Service Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Western Group on Student Affairs (WGSA). The WGSA defines exemplary service as significant or sustained leadership, expertise and/or creativity in addressing an issue or issues of importance to the WGSA.

“I am pleased that the Association of American Medical Colleges Western Group on Student Affairs chose to honor Dr. Elliott,” said Laura Mosqueda, MD, dean of the Keck School. “She is just as dedicated to elevating the professionalism of student affairs offices around the country as she has been to serving the academic and personal needs of the students at the Keck School.”

Elliott has had a long relationship with the AAMC, holding leadership positions in both the WGSA and in the national organization. She served as the chair of the WGSA from 2013 to 2015 and is currently the AAMC National Chair for the Group on Student Affairs.

The organization brings together officials from the student affairs offices of medical schools around the country. Elliott, who has held several roles in student affairs at the Keck School including most recently serving as senior associate dean for student and educational affairs, said the group was important to her when she was first appointed to student affairs because she was able to connect with more seasoned leaders from other medical schools.

“One of the most important things for me was reaching out to mentors,” she said, noting that learning from other student affairs officers about how they approach different challenges gave her a leg up when she started.

During her time in WGSA and now as a national leader, one of her goals has been to recruit more student affairs officers to the cause, and to build a stronger community through mentorship and sharing ideas for best practices.

“I have enjoyed the people I have met through WGSA and the work I have done and am honored they chose to give me this award,” Elliott said.

— Hope Hamashige