Miller School Hosts Student National Medical Association Leadership Meeting

The Miller School and its campus chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted about 60 medical students and two dozen pre-med students attending the SNMA’s 2012 National Leadership Institute held last month at the Lois Pope LIFE Center.

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who addressed the three-day gathering on January 21, was among the leadership and faculty members who participated in or helped organize the UM edition of the conference, which is held three times a year at different locations across the country and engages students in leadership development activities. UM last hosted the conference in the spring of 1999.

“The Leadership Institute is focused on providing our members and other attendees with the leadership skills necessary to fulfill the goals of the SNMA organization, as well as the personal and professional goals we strive for as we train to enter the field of medicine,” said Rosanne Henry, a fourth-year student and one of three UM students who chaired the conference. “Dean Goldschmidt’s talk energized the group and the other discussions and activities left us with hope for the future of medicine in this country and globally. Planning the conference took a year of time and a lot of effort from a small group of people, but it was well worth it.”

The SNMA is dedicated to ensuring that medical education and services are culturally sensitive to the needs of diverse populations and to increasing the number of African-American, Latino, and other students of color entering and completing medical school.

Titled “The Leadership Mosaic: Bridging the Community, Business, and Politics of Medicine,” the conference included several sessions by UM faculty designed to boost attendees’ leadership skills. The Miller School’s Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., assistant professor of family medicine and community health, and Nelson Adams, M.D., chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Jackson North Medical Center and president of N. L. Adams, M.D., and Associates, discussed the true meaning of leadership. Cheryl Holder, M.D., associate professor at FIU’s Wertheim College of Medicine, gave a lecture on the business of medicine.

Other Miller School presenters included Marie Denise Gervais, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and community health, who spoke on group dynamics and the role of culture in communication, and Stephen Symes, M.D., and Stefanie Brown, M.D., who talked about leadership at the Miller School and the residency program. Symes, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, and Brown, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, are also assistant deans of diversity and multicultural affairs.

Among the students who presented at the conference was Hansel E. Tookes III, a second-year Miller School student who discussed the research behind his recent paper comparing syringe disposal practices among injection drug users in cities with and without needle and syringe exchange programs. The paper was published online on December 28 in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a leading substance use journal. Tookes also discussed the value of medical and public health research and encouraged students to look for research opportunities.

“The enthusiasm of these future leaders was palpable,” Tookes said. “You could feel the commitment to effecting social and health policy change through the practice of medicine.”

Third-year medical student Tynisa Harvey-Blount and second-year student Jametria Howard-Jones also served as conference co-chairs. A committee of 15 other SNMA members, along with the offices of Medical Education and Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, helped plan and execute the event.

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