What’s It Like Being in a New Co-Ed Medical Fraternity?

Prior to my freshman year of college, there were only two things about Greek life that I knew—or thought I knew—about: 1) There were only social fraternities and sororities, each one filled with purely males or females, respectively, and 2) I personally didn’t picture myself being involved with Greek life whatsoever.

But fast forward to the spring semester, I am now part of a co-ed medical fraternity on campus called Phi Delta Epsilon and there is not a single moment when I’ve regretted my decision whatsoever.

What is Phi Delta Epsilon?

So, who are we exactly? We’re a social pre-medical fraternity consisting of men and women dedicated to becoming physicians of integrity with a lifelong commitment to our guiding principles of philanthropy, deity, and equity.

We demonstrate our values through service within and outside the fraternity, education, leadership, inclusion, and mentorship.

Our motto is “Facta Non Verba,” which is Latin for “Deeds Not Words.”

We strongly believe our actions speak louder than words, which is why we strive to develop our character and integrity through our fraternity so that we may become successful physicians in the future.

What’s the history behind Phi Delta Epsilon?

The very first Phi Delta Epsilon was founded at Cornell University Medical College in 1904 by a group of Jewish medical students who were seeing the doors of opportunity being closed to them during this decade.

It was only after World War II when the doors were finally fully open to Jewish medical students and physicians but until then, this group of friends took the initiative to start their own fraternal organization.

Initially, the fraternity consisted of men until around the late 1960s when membership was extended to women.

It was at the same time that medical students of all races, nationalities, and religious beliefs were encouraged to join.

There was also an addition of the pre-medical affiliation in 1994, which further expanded the fraternity and made it even more diverse and inclusive.

What is the Eta chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon at UF?

While the first Phi Delta Epsilon has been around for over one hundred years, the Eta chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon at the University of Florida is actually still brand new.

The chapter was recently introduced to UF in the fall semester of 2019.

After the prospective applicants went through the application and interview stages, 53 members were welcomed into the pre-medical fraternity as its official founding class.

Because the Eta chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon is still so brand new, we’re not actually called a chapter just yet.

In fact, the official term for a new, budding chapter of a fraternity is called a colony.

Since we are still considered a colony as of now but on March 11th, 2020, we will be given our charter that will officially make us a chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon.

With that, we can start recruiting over the summer and by next fall semester, we will be officially rushing to gain new members into our fraternity who are passionate about medicine while being surrounded by like-minded, supportive people whom we already call family.

What are the differences and similarities between a professional fraternity and the traditional social fraternities/sororities?

Phi Delta Epsilon as a whole is a medical fraternity with a pre-medical affiliation (which is what UF’s Eta chapter is).

However, there are also other professional fraternities out there that are not just limited to medically-related groups.

Other professional organizations include business, law, pre-health, engineering, pharmaceutical and pharmacological, and so on.

The difference between a professional fraternity and a social fraternity is that professional fraternities work to build brotherhood among their members and cultivate the strengths of each member in order to promote their profession.

Additionally, members provide assistance and guidance to one another in their mutual areas of professional study.

As mentioned earlier, my fraternity in particular is co-ed.

There are other professional fraternities that are co-ed as well, unlike your traditional fraternity where it consists of just males or how sororities are all female.

Other than those differences, much of the processes and events in professional fraternities are similar to those of a social fraternity.

For example, we also have bid day for the new members in which they participate in various bonding and social activities with their new brothers (as the members are called, regardless of whether you’re a male or female).

The professional fraternity may also participate in philanthropy and community service, just as social fraternities do.

For example, Phi Delta Epsilon’s international philanthropic and service partner is Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals, which is what we fundraise and raise awareness for.

What do we do as a colony?

So far, we’ve held professional bi-weekly meetings called “chapter” where we would also dress in business casual attire to help build professionalism.

Additionally, we’ve hosted multiple events throughout the year to build friendships and learn medical skills such as a cultural potluck, a Christmas social, “phamily” reveals, a Secret Valentine social, and a suturing clinic led by a member of the Army.

Over the past semester and a half, we’ve really grown together as a colony but I’m certain we will accomplish and do so many more great things as an official chapter.

To any student who wants to be surrounded by a group of friendly and supportive peers that are also pursuing a path in medicine, then Phi Delta Epsilon is the one for you. I know it is for me!

The phrase “co-ed medical fraternity” was a group of words I never expected to go together, and Phi Delta Epsilon was my first exposure to such a thing.

Little did I know I would grow to love the fraternity because of the people in it.

Even though this is only my first year with them, I’m so excited to see what the fraternity has in store for me as well as how far it’ll go in the future.