Salsa dancing is not something typically associated with medical school. But Karen Lawson, MD, wants to change that.

The idea to host a dance class originally presented itself as an idea out of the Student Wellbeing Committee for the Medical School. Dr. Lawson wanted to offer something to students that could help not only relieve stress, but that also sends a message that the faculty care about students as human beings, and not just by their test scores.

She herself has been salsa dancing herself for about four years. “When I learned that the entertainment for a research conference I was presenting at was a live salsa orchestra, I figured I had better learn,” says Lawson.

For the past three years, she has been organizing a salsa outing at a local dance studio, Duende. The event is free for University of Minnesota Medical students, along with their spouses or partners. “I think students really appreciate the opportunity to do something fun together as a group,” says Lawson.

This year, nearly 50 students signed up to participate– a big jump from years past, where only 25 to 30 students had signed up.

Duende, located in St. Louis Park, donates both the studio space and the cost of the instructor. “Without the support of Duende, the event wouldn’t be possible,” says Lawson. “We are incredibly grateful and look forward for years to come!”