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Medical Student Section

The WSMA Medical Student Section introduces our future physicians to the WSMA and helps provide resources and guidance that will assist students as they prepare for a career in medicine.

MSS Governing Council

Meet the dedicated medical students from the Medical Student Section Governing Council.

2018-19 Medical Student Section Governing Council

Vera Schulte, Chair
University of Washington, Spokane
Vera is the WSMA MSS chair at the University of Washington in Spokane. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in May 2017 with a degree in physics. After a summer of hiking and traveling, she started medical school at the UW Spokane campus. In St. Louis, she developed a passion for health policy and advocacy, an interest which she is pursuing during her involvement with the WSMA and AMA.

Shahrzad Dow, Vice Chair
Shahrzad Dow is a third-year medical student at Pacific Northwest University, serving on the WSMA MSS as Vice Chair, and currently doing her clinical rotations in Puyallup and Tacoma. Prior to attending medical school, she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Physiology and Global Health, spent time learning about rural medicine in Washington, volunteered and practiced Spanish in Guatemala, and worked as a medical scribe in an emergency department. She is interested in emergency medicine, improving health care for rural and underserved communities, and remaining active in advocacy throughout her career. With any free time, Shahrzad enjoys being outdoors hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and trying to fish, or practicing watercolor painting and calligraphy.

Jessica (Jess) Dawson, Delegate
University of Washington, Seattle
Jessica is a third-year medical student at the University of Washington in Seattle, serving this year as delegate of the WSMA MSS Council, which she chaired for the past two years. She serves as a leader in her school as the class president of the University of Washington Seattle Medical Student Association. Jess is excited to work with the WSMA and empower medical students with the ability to write resolutions for WSMA/AMA. Jess' policy interests include women's health, access to health care and medicine, especially for individuals who are incarcerated or homeless, health equity, and addressing the effects of systemic racism in health care. Outside of medicine, Jess volunteers as a diver for the Seattle Aquarium.

Catherine (Catie) Fairgrieve Appel, Alternate Delegate
Catherine (Catie) Fairgrieve Appel is a third-year medical student at Pacific Northwest University, serving on the WSMA MSS as Alternate Delegate and the Yakima County Medical Society board as a student trustee. Prior to attending medical school, she worked as a certified athletic trainer in Seattle and as a program coordinator with the National Diabetes Prevention Program. She studied athletic training at Eastern Washington University as an undergrad and holds a master's in medical physiology from Case Western Reserve University. Her interests include health literacy and education, improving access to care, and engaging her fellow students in advocacy and organized medicine.

Erik Risa, At-large
University of Washington, Spokane
Erik Risa is a second year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Spokane. He is interested in Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery. Prior to starting medical school, he was an Ethics Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University where he developed an interest for Neuroethics and Biomedical Research, and the political and societal conversation surrounding those topics. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, music, playing soccer, and being outdoors.

Erin K. Johnson, At-large
Erin Johnson's journey to medicine started with a love for teaching and witnessing the many disparities in low income and underserved populations while volunteering in free medical clinics in Montana and Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2013, with a Bachelor of Science in physiology. From there she attended Bastyr University's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program in Kenmore, Washington. Knowing that continuation of schooling was necessary to meet patients' needs in Washington State, she determined to return to school to further her education. She is honored to be part of a medical school that focuses on community needs and advancement of health and science. She is also looking forward to participating in WSMA's Medical Student Council to create change and improve healthcare delivery. During her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, playing guitar and singing, camping with her husband, Jack, and riding horses. She grew up in Whitefish, Montana and has spent the last 10 years in Seattle, Washington attending school, volunteering, and working.

Katherine (Katie) Strandberg, At-large
University of Washington, Spokane
Katherine (Katie) is originally from the Seattle area and is a third-year medical student at the University of Washington in Spokane. Prior to medical school, Katherine spent time serving as a mental health case manager, working as a nursing assistant and volunteering and learning Spanish in Guatemala. Katherine is passionate about Hispanic health, women's health and improving access to health care for underserved patients and plans to serve and advocate for these populations as a primary care provider. Katherine's free time activities include being outdoors—hiking, running, kayaking and playing soccer.

Matthew Grierson, MD, Liaison from the WSMA AMA Delegation
Physical medicine and rehabilitation, Seattle Spine & Sports Medicine, Seattle
Dr. Grierson is a board-certified physiatrist with subspecialty board certification in sports medicine. Dr. Grierson earned his medical degree from Boston University and completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Washington, where he also served as chief resident. Having experienced his fair share of dance-related injuries, Dr. Grierson appreciates the importance of finding a physician who understands the functional impact of an injury. He is medical director of the Clinic for Performing Artists (CoPA) at Seattle Spine and Sports Medicine and is committed to helping all patients across the spectrum of age, ability, and function. Outside of work, Dr. Grierson assists in shaping healthcare policy through his work with the WSMA and the American Medical Association. He co-founded a local non-profit (SeaPAM) that provides treatment to local performing artists who otherwise would not have access to care. When he has time, he loves spending time hiking or skiing in the mountains or baking decadent desserts in the kitchen.

Andrew Liechty, Liaison from the WSMA Board of Trustees
Washington State University, Spokane
Andrew is a second-year medical student at Washington State University. His current medical interests include movement disorders and musculoskeletal conditions. He became interested in policy issues through a variety of experiences that illuminated the need to not only seek out solutions on a personal level, but also look at systemic issues that are having broad effects on society. He is interested in issues related to addiction and social inequity. In his spare time, he enjoys climbing and being outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

Bjorn Payne, Liaison
University of Washington, Seattle
Bjorn is a third-year medical student at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is interested in addiction medicine and health care disparities, particularly as they manifest across categories of race, sexual orientation and gender. He sees organized medicine as an opportunity to serve patients and the community by addressing barriers to good health and quality medical practice at a structural level.

Elroy An, Liaison
University of Washington, Seattle
Elroy is a first-year medical student at the University of Washington in Seattle. His educational background includes a master’s in medical science from Loyola University Chicago. He also has a BS in biochemistry with a background in aging research from the University of Washington. With a passion to serve the underserved, he was one of the pioneering 2012 Teach for America corps members in Washington. In the classroom, he taught high school science, served as the science department chair, contributed as a district curriculum developer, and served as the head tennis coach. Elroy’s policy and advocacy interests include Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) health, health care access for the underserved, and healthcare equity.

Reilly Bealer, Liaison
Western State University, Spokane
Reilly Bealer is a first-year medical student at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. She is currently doing pre-clinical years in Spokane, WA and then will complete clinical rotations in Tri-Cities, Washington. Prior to medical school, she graduated with a degree in Biology from Gonzaga University. She spent several years working as a medical scribe in Pediatric Neurology and Internal Medicine. Reilly is excited to work with WSMA/AMA teaching fellow medical students to write resolutions and advocating for improved access to healthcare for the people of Washington state, especially for those who are underserved. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books, and taking her corgi named Milo for runs.

Erin Hagerty, Liaison
University of Washington, Spokane
Erin Hegarty grew up in the Tri Cities, Washington, before attending Baylor University for her bachelors degree in Health Science Studies and the University of North Carolina for her masters degree in Sport Administration. Before coming to the University of Washington, she spent a year coaching cross country and track at the University of Toledo in Toledo, OH. She is very much enjoying being a medical student and resident of Spokane. Something about which Erin is particularly passionate is the impact the practice of medicine has on the environment. Erin is excited about the opportunity to serve the University of Washington - Spokane as its WSMA rep and looks forward to learning from its members.

WSMA staff

Milana McLead, senior director of strategic communications and growth,
Alison Ippolito, associate director of membership,


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