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In collaboration with BELONG, a local non-profit organization that provides resources to immigrant families, the University of South Alabama College of Medicine chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) recently hosted a health fair to meet the needs of the Hispanic community in Mobile.
Hilda Watkins, a third-year student at the USA College of Medicine and member of the SMNA, helped to organize the event. According to Watkins, the event was a success, as they were able to serve 75 Hispanic families.
“With a growing Hispanic population in the Mobile area, our goal is to provide educational resources that improve health literacy and health outcomes. It is our responsibility as future physicians to make sure we teach them about health and refer them to available resources,” Watkins said.
At the event, medical students facilitated six health-centered tables to provide counseling and information on various health topics. Members from the Medical Spanish Interest Group (MSIG) served as translators at the event.
Juan Torres, founder and CEO of BELONG, said this event was much needed - as members of the Hispanic community typically place health care below priorities such as work and family life. “This event provided the perfect opportunity to bring the Hispanic community together as we raised awareness of the importance of taking care of our health,” he said. “The unprecedented participation of medical students from the USA College of Medicine with our Hispanic community was wonderful because I have seen firsthand the level of energy, intellect and cultural sensitivity these students bring to a community at risk.”
Trevor Stevens, a third-year medical student and MSIG member at the USA College of Medicine, helped organize medical student translators.“Students were able to help break down the communication barriers and effectively help educate patients in order to prevent chronic and life-changing diseases while building trust within the community,” Stevens said.
Stevens said that events like the SMNA health fair are beneficial for medical students because it allows students to see the positive impact that they can have in the community and to have firsthand experience in battling health care disparities.
Watkins said she is grateful for the team effort put forth by the volunteers who organized and participated in the event. “To see an idea on paper come to fruition is a wonderful experience, and knowing you impacted a life in a positive way is quite satisfying,” she said. “We hope to continue hosting this event in the years to come, each year hoping it will grow, allowing us to impact more people.”.
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