Select Page

Tag Days – 95 Years of Giving Back while Growing Closer

M1 Cyrus and M2 Kayla tagging together during a shift on Thursday in the hospital

As a medical student here at the University of Michigan there are plenty of ways that we can give back to our community. From Wolverine Street Medicine, a group that provides healthcare to the homeless, to UMAC, a group that advocates for survivors of human rights abuses, to the dedicated students who run our Student-Run Free Clinic – helping others is in our blood. However – I might be a bit biased, but – no other event combines giving back to our community with as much fun, holiday cheer, and wacky tradition as Galens Tag Days.

What is Galens Tag Days, you ask? Tag Days is a large-scale fundraiser for children’s charities and organizations in our local county. Every year, medical students disperse throughout the hospital and the city wearing red ponchos and silly onesies. Looking like this, it’s hard for passersby to ignore our charming requests – and when they learn about our mission and the organizations we support, the donations come rolling in! 

Every year, we raise tens of thousands of dollars in small donations from generous Ann Arbor supporters, and in exchange they receive a fashionable red, green or *maize* tag that they can tie to their coat zipper or dog’s collar! Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our yearly fundraiser was moved entirely online in 2020, so we were especially excited to be back in person this year!

Can you tell the faculty apart from the students in this picture snapped during Midnight Madness on Friday in downtown Ann Arbor?

In addition to supporting a great cause (For The Kids! is the slogan of Tag Days), there are other compelling reasons for medical students to get involved in this event. Our incredible medical school faculty and staff drive around the town in “Happy Vans” or pull a “Happy Wagon” around the hospital, distributing snacks and beverages to warm our bodies and spirits during our cold shifts outside. It certainly makes our attendings less intimidating on the wards after we’ve played several rounds of chubby bunny with them outside the hospital. 

Some faculty combinations have been going strong for years, and the competition between rival vans is real (I won’t name names, but this year there might have been a legendary van theft in the middle of a shift!) Happy Van Drivers include head of the pulmonary sequence for M1 students, transplant surgeons, and our very own Dean for Student Services, and it’s so special to get to know them in this unique context.

M3 Aaron and M2 Dana raising money For The Kids! on Saturday morning

In addition to creating lasting memories with your med school best friends, Tag Days also allows you another opportunity to get to know students in other classes. As an M1, sharing a tagging experience with an M4 can create a lifelong connection with a future IM physician at Penn or OB/GYN at Northwestern (speaking from experience here!)

So – we have an excuse to break away from UWorld, support a great cause, get to authentically know attendings and build friendships and memories across the medical school – what’s not to love? 

Although Tag Days 2021 is behind us (**online donations still accepted through December, details below), the most exciting part of this tradition is just around the corner! In January and February, we will allocate the funds raised during Tag Days 2020. That means we have the responsibility and privilege of distributing the nearly $80,000 that was raised last year!

Any puppy looks so much cuter with a Galens Tag hanging from their harness!

Organizations we have funded in the past include Girls Group, Children’s Literacy Network, Student Advocacy Center, and the Leslie Science and Nature Center, and some of the projects and events we helped fund can be found on our Instagram page. Stay tuned to see where this year’s donations will go!

**Interested in supporting Tag Days? Donations can be made online at or you can Venmo us @GalensTagDays. We’re getting close to our goal and every donation helps!

Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone! It’s finals week for the non-medical school campus – I am currently in between my two final exams (just finished my Chinese exam) and will then be free for the holidays! I’m not going far, but I’m happy to have the chance to sleep in a bit more.

Sadly, my holidays won’t be quite as work-free as I had originally hoped (I have far too much that needs to be done on my prelims paper and for my research), but I’m looking forward to being able to work without rushing off to the next activity (and sneak in a Christmas cookie or two).

The weather lately has been quite nice – we’ve barely been below freezing since the 15-inch snowfall the week before Thanksgiving (don’t worry – Ann Arbor only got 8 inches and it soon melted). Galens Tag Days have come and gone – us med students definitely appreciated the slightly warmer temps. After all, the hand warmers stood a chance (my first year it was so cold the hand warmers wouldn’t activate)!

Most of all, the holiday season is a chance to reflect on the past year, look at how far we’ve come, and realize that, while there’s still a mountain of work yet to be done, there’s plenty of hope for a sunny future. Happy Holidays everyone!