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The University of South Alabama College of Medicine chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) recently hosted the 2017 SNMA Regional Education Conference at the Student Center Terrace on USA’s main campus.
The conference, “Health Disparities: Stepping Up to the Challenge of Change,” gave students at various stages in their academic careers the opportunity to learn about the importance of diversity in the medical field.
Alexis Griffin, a third-year student at the USA College of Medicine, served as conference coordinator for the event. “This is an annual conference that is hosted by different medical schools throughout the region,” she said. “The goal was not only to add to the development of individuals interested in diversifying the medical field, but also to encourage high school and undergraduate students across the region to pursue careers in medicine. The conference also served as an opportunity for high school and college students to connect with medical students for mentorship.”
The conference, planned by Griffin and USA SNMA chapter members, hosted 95 high school, college and medical students from around the region. “Students traveled from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and The Caribbean,” Griffin said.
The event featured interactive sessions and presentations led by USA College of Medicine medical students, residents and faculty. Dr. Errol Crook, professor and chair of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and director of the USA Center for Healthy Communities, served as the keynote speaker.
During the break-out session, students were separated into groups and attended informational panel sessions based on their academic rank. High school students attended a session led by Chante’ Hendrix, diversity coordinator for the office of diversity and inclusion and SNMA chapter advisor, on “How to Become Pre-Med,” while undergraduate students attended a session led by a panel of fourth-year students at the USA College of Medicine. The medical students – Alan Akira, Yasmine Strickland, Alexandria Broadnax and Kirasten Brasfield – discussed “The Medical School Journey,” sharing their experiences as they earn their medical degree. Medical students then attended a session led by a panel of USA resident physicians who covered “Applying to Residency.”
“This was the first time the USA College of Medicine has hosted a SNMA Regional Educational Conference,” Griffin said. “It was an honor to serve as coordinator for the event. As an African-American female who recognizes the shortage of minorities in the medical field, I was proud to organize a conference that provided a platform for students to interact with physicians of the same ethnicity. Seeing individuals in the positions that we aspire to be in reinforces the idea that becoming a physician is an attainable goal.”
Griffin said the event also added to the growth and development of future physicians who will work with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. “We learned about various diseases that disproportionately affect certain populations, explored the complexity of civic engagement and discussed ways in which we can be advocates for our patients,” she said. “Attendees were also constantly empowered and reminded that although there is a rough road ahead, we are all capable of reaching our ultimate goal.”
The SNMA is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.
View more photos from the event here.
Click here to learn more about SNMA.
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