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The MCW Chapter on How They Made the Most of Going Virtual

First published in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Kern Institute Transformational Times. Edited by Eileen Peterson.

The need to go all-virtual this year due to COVID presented a challenge for The Medical College of Wisconsin’s chapter of Medical Students for Choice (MCW MSFC), a club based on building knowledge and connections to provide comprehensive reproductive care. Instead of holding back, MCW MSFC’s executive board (M2s Laura Grogan, Elizabeth Panther and Madeleine Sookdeo) adapted and leveraged this time as an opportunity to engage students virtually and expand the organization. In September, the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), a leader and icon in the reproductive rights, proved to be a particularly galvanizing moment for our chapter. Undoubtedly, the subsequent replacement of RBG with someone against abortion access has increased our engagement and motivation here at MCW MSFC.

Head Shot of Elizabeth Panther and Laura Grogan

MCW MSFC President Laura Grogan, left, and MCW MSFC Treasurer Elizabeth Panther, right.

Through partnerships with both local and national organizations, we hosted the following inspiring events this fall:

  • Legal Restrictions to Abortion Access in Wisconsin with Mel Barnes, JD from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, co-hosted with the University of Wisconsin -Madison School of Medicine and Public Health chapter of MSFC (UW-Madison MSFC)
  • Reproductive Advocacy with Sara Finger, Director of Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, co-hosted with UW-Madison MSFC
  • Abortion Ethics and Abortion Access with Katie Watson JD, author of Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Ordinary Abortion, co-hosted with MCW’s Bioethics Interest Group

The use of a virtual platform facilitated easier coordination with speakers outside of the Milwaukee area. Additionally, MCW MSFC and UW-Madison MSFC joined forces on multiple events this fall, largely thanks to the ease of virtual coordination. Internal and external collaborations allowed us to widen our platform and increase medical student exposure to the importance of abortion care access and advocacy.

In addition to hosting exhilarating speakers this fall, we wanted to foster a greater sense of togetherness during these distanced times. Back in September, our treasurer, Elizabeth Panther, found the funds for us to host a virtual craft night where we painted vulvas while listening to a themed playlist curated by our members. We also facilitated a series of book club discussions where peers openly discussed the book Scarlet A prior to our event with Katie Watson. We are so glad these social events could bring together otherwise distanced students in a low-stress environment.

 

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Moving forward, we have brought six amazing M1 liaisons onto our chapter board: Raquel Valdes, Alli Whitaker, Kate Tyson, Ashlyn Elftmann, Kole Binger, and Danielle Slaughter. By bringing these MCW leaders on board early, we hoped to better understand the M1 class’ needs during these unique times. Our M1 liaisons have blown us away, and their efforts and presence have been vital in our ability to recruit many new members and continue to put on inspiring event and activities.

We have also started to promote MCW MSFC on social media, thanks to the efforts of Maddie Sookdeo, our community outreach chair. Check out our Instagram (@mcw_msfc)! Social media has made it easier to co-host events and cross promote within MCW and beyond. Through this platform, we have connected with local and cross-campus members, and we have been better able to share international resources from MSFC.

We are thrilled to share that our group has been fortunate to expand from 32 members to 104 members this year. The enthusiasm around MSFC has motivated us to continue planning and hosting more events this spring, which include:

  • Why We Provide Panel of Milwaukee abortion providers
  • MSFC Book Club continued with Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts
  • Virtual 5k for Roe v Wade 48th Anniversary with Rosalind Franklin Medical School
  • Providing Inclusive Reproductive Care with Dr. Jessica Francis and Dr. Jamie Buth from the Inclusion Clinic, co-hosted with MCW LGBTPM and MCW CARES
  • …And more!

 

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MCW MSFC has tried to make the most out of these distanced times, and we are so grateful for our members who have helped us do just that! MSFC is filled with incredible patient advocates, and we can’t wait to see where this momentum leads to in the future.