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    GSA Committee on Admissions (COA)

    The GSA National Committee on Admissions (COA) provides guidance on national policy and procedural issues regarding the admission of students to medical school, and the admission of transfer students or candidates with advanced standing. The Committee receives regular reports regarding two services of the AAMC: the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS) and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

    Committee Charge

    The Committee discusses issues of national interest that are brought to its attention by GSA constituents or AAMC staff. The Committee may identify projects, such as a national survey or the development of a brochure, where an issue is of national importance and interest. The Committee is advisory to the GSA Steering Committee, and, as such, makes regular reports to the Steering Committee and seeks approval of the Steering Committee for special projects.

    Message from the Chair

    I am honored and humbled to serve our medical school admissions community as the AAMC Chair of the Committee on Admissions (COA). I previously served as a regional representative on COA for the Western and Southern regions for 6 years total. I have been involved in medical school admissions my entire career since 2002 across three public medical schools in two states and in an admissions leadership role of Director and above since 2008. Finally, I am a first-generation Latina from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Throughout my career, advocacy for breaking down barriers for all aspiring doctors has been of great importance to me. 

    COA is one of five national committees of the AAMC Group on Student Affairs (GSA); together, we engage in an advisory capacity to the GSA Steering Committee and other applicable AAMC committees and working groups. COA is comprised of the COA chair, four regional representatives, the Committee on Student Diversity Affairs (COSDA) representative, an appointed representative from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP), an Organization of Student Representative (OSR) Liaison, and the GSA National Vice-Chair.

    We are facing new challenges and find ourselves in unprecedented times within admissions. The June 2023 SCOTUS decision related to the consideration of race/ethnicity in admissions has required agility to shift processes, procedures, and policies in our institutions. It has also had an impact on applicants (current and prospective) and the pre-health advising community as they determine how to best share the rich lived experiences medicine needs. Our admissions community swiftly adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic and remained resilient. We are a strong, highly collaborative, and supportive community. We hope to continue on this path, building stronger bridges with our pre-health community to best serve applicants now and in the future. 

    We welcome our constituents to reach out when there is something you want us to discuss that is impacting or will impact the admissions community, applicants, and pre-health advisors. We want to better understand challenges and ideas you have. We look forward to continuing to serve you!  


    Leila Harrison (née Diaz), PhD, MA, MEd
    National Chair, GSA Committee on Admissions
    Vice Dean for Admissions, Student Affairs, and Alumni Engagement
    Assistant Professor
    Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

    Member Resources

    Handbook for Admissions Officer

    The Handbook for Admissions Officers updated by the Committee on Admissions in 2015 compiles key information, examples of best office practices, and general wisdom based on decades of experience. This handbook is included within the GSA Member Handbook in order to reflect the important relationship between admissions and student affairs. In an effort to go green, this handbook is not available in print. However, you may download the entire handbook (PDF).


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    The AAMC offers members access to a wide range of resources. Please select the sign in link located at the top of this page to access member-only resources and all their features:


    COA Committee Roster

    Leila E Harrison, PhD, MEd, MA (November 2023- November 2026)
    Vice Dean for Admissions, Student Affairs, and Alumni Engagement
    Clinical Assistant Professor
    Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

    GSA National Vice-Chair
    Tara K Cunningham, EdD, MS (November 2023 – November 2024)
    Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

    Committee on Student Diversity Affairs (COSDA) Representative
    Dimple Patel, MS (November 2021 – November 2024)
    Associate Dean for Admissions
    University of Minnesota Medical School/Twin Cities Campus 

    Central Region (CGSA) Representative
    Brian Steele, EdD (December 2022 – November 2026)
    Associate Dean for Admissions; Assistant Professor, Family Medicine
    University of Kansas School of Medicine 

    Northeast Region (NEGSA) Representative
    Leila Amiri, PhD (November 2023- November 2026)
    Assistant Professor; Department of Psychiatry
    Associate Dean for Admissions
    Larner College of Medicine
    University of Vermont

    Southern Region (SGSA) Representative
    Wendy Jackson, MD (November 2023- November 2026)
    Associate Dean for Admissions
    Associate Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology
    University of Kentucky College of Medicine

    Western Region (WGSA) Representative
    Tejal Parikh, MD (April 2023 – November 2026)
    Associate Dean, Admissions
    Associate Professor, Family and Community Medicine
    Director, Life Cycle Block    
    University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson

    National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) Liaison
    Michael Deibel, PhD (June 2020 – June 2023)
    Interim Dean of the Faculty
    Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
    Professor of Chemistry
    Earlham College

    AAMC Staff Liaison
    Irena Tartakovsky, MD, MS
    Director, Constituent Engagement
    Association of American Medical Colleges