Yesterday, I participated as a member of a resident panel for the Division VI meeting of the Student National Medical Association. This organization was founded and chartered at Howard University College of Medicine in 1964 because African-American physicians were not allowed to become members of the American Medical Association. Since its founding, National Medical Association and its student branch the SNMA or Student National Medical Association has been at the forefront for addressing the needs and concerns of medical students of color. Membership numbers over 5,000 and now includes medical students, residents, pre-medical students and licensed physicians. SNMA focuses on the needs of underserved communities such as Native American, Africian American, Lation and Pacific Islanders.
SNMA members at the University of Virginia, asked me to participate in this forum that would address the disparities and barriers in healthcare that profoundly affect underserved populations in the United States. It was especially great because underserved populations are no longer limited to people of color but the working poor, the uninsured and the underinsured.
Also participating in yesterdays conference, that attracted pre-med and medical students from Virginia,Maryland, and The District of Columbia was featured speaker Cato Laurencin, MD Ph.D who is the new chairman of Orthopedic Surgery (Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor) at The University of Virginia and who holds joint appointments in both orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering. Dr. Laurencin’s research has been at the forefront of orthopedic surgery and the development of devices for injured patients. Our keynote speaker was Melvin Pinn, MD MPH who is the Medical Director of the Virginia Premier Health Plan, Inc.
In addition to the keynote and featured speakers, there were workshops and site visits for the participants. There was a Heart sounds lab that was run by Adam Clark MD and a workshop on Case-Based approach to dealing with problems encountered during the physician-patient interaction that was conducted by David B. Waters, Ph-D of the Family Practice Department at the University of Virginia.
If you have an opportunity to join the SNMA or the NMA, you should take advantage of this great organization. In addition to being able to attend meetings such as the Division VI regional meeting, you interact with professions and medical students from several states. I met two of Mary Bois-Byrne’s classmates from VCOM last evening. There were agendas for both Pre-Medical and Medical Students. On the Pre-Medical agenda were workshops for Summer Research and making your application competitive for medical school.
SNMA offers members free subsciptions to The Jounal of the Student National Medical Association and SNMA news letter, participation in international health service opportunites in Africa, Latin America and the Carribean; awards for community service, networking, opportunities to review for major textbook publishers, huge discounts on review books and review courses, discounts on computers from Gateway, scholarships and workshops on personal finance. In addition, SNMA members have a special opportunity to work as externs wit the National Heart,Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institute of Health.
Membership in this organization is not limited to medical and pre-medical students of color but is open to all medical and pre-medical students. Medical Schools represented at UVa yesterday were University of Virginia, Georgetown University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, George Washington University, Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, Medical College of Virginia, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and the University of Maryland.
There are great scholarships available from this organization for students at every level including high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical. There are also resources for reseach opportunities for students at every level. SNMA resources are open to all students who are interested in medicine regardless of race or color who have an interest in working with underserved populations and interested in setting health policy.
It was great to meet the gentlemen from VCOM and know that they are providing fellowship for each other at this new medical school.
Thanks for posting that info! I didn’t know SNMA had premed members and I’m certainily going to look into becoming member soon. Do you mind if I post your thread on the Mommd, blackdoc2be, and SDN websites?
Ditto, thanks for the great info, Natalie. I also wasn’t aware that premeds could be members. I’ll be joining soon!
Here’s an article from The Cincinnati Post about the number of physicians of color in practice:
Black Doctors: High demand, short supply
By Cindy Starr, Post staff reporter
Little progress is being made in efforts to increase the number of African-American physicians in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
An estimated 100 African-American doctors are practicing in Hamilton County and only four in Northern Kentucky.
''The number has not increased; it's lagging,'' said Dr. Kenneth Davis Jr., a trauma surgeon and associate dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. ''We haven't been able to recruit many people to stay.''
The problem is blamed on the city's reputation for poor race relations and legal attacks on affirmative action, as well low reimbursements from medical insurers which cut across racial lines.
The shortage of African-American doctors is especially acute among specialists.
Dr. Yvette Casey-Hunter, a pediatrician and president of the Cincinnati Medical Association, or CMA, said the number of black obstetricians has dropped from 10 to four, with two more preparing to drop out of obstetrical work. She said the area's only black dermatologist recently retired.
In all, Hamilton County has an estimated 2,300 to 2,800 physicians.
The Web site for the CMA, a local organization of African-American doctors, lists only one black ENT, one cardio- vascular surgeon, three child psychiatrists and no adult psychiatrists.
The result is that African-Americans, who traditionally have sought medical care from other African-Americans, have few options.
Managed care, which has tightened reimbursement payments to area physicians - both black and white - is mostly to blame for the shortage of African-American doctors, Dr. Casey-Hunter said.
She said one insurance company, which she declined to name, is reimbursing doctors at rates lower than Medicaid, which traditionally has paid the lowest fees to physicians.
Dr. Casey-Hunter believes low reimbursements have hurt more than the last year's riots and ensuing racial friction. New black doctors, who graduate from medical school as much as $100,000 in debt, cannot afford to practice in Cincinnati, she said. The closing of Bethesda Oak hospital in Avondale also hurt black doctors, Dr. Casey-Hunter said.
''That traditionally was a place where large numbers of African-Americans felt comfortable going,'' she said. ''Many people had babies there or were born there, or had surgery there, or hospitalizations there. It was an integral part of the community. When it closed, there was not the tradition or culture of going across town to Good Samaritan or Christ Hospital. That also was a way of telling people you're not valued.''
''In addition, physicians who had practiced in those buildings have been made to move. That's disruptive to a practice.''
The prevailing racial climate also has deterred black doctors from relocating to Cincinnati or from remaining here following their residencies at area hospitals, physicians say.
''This is not a city where people felt comfortable and wanted to move to,'' Davis said. ''It's not a very friendly city for African-Americans.''
Davis said ''very few'' black residents who train at the University of Cincinnati choose to practice here.
Dr. Esly Caldwell, who practices in Florence and Cincinnati, said an annual networking reception for black health professionals, sponsored by the Health Improvement Collaborative, the CMA and others, has sought to help keep black doctors in Cincinnati after their residencies. ''Sometimes we get a few,'' he said.
Medicine must do far more to create a medical environment that reflects the racial diversity of society, said Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of UC's Department of Surgery.
''It is critical that the surgical leaders of tomorrow reflect the American population,'' Matthews said. ''The field of surgery, like most of medicine, is way behind the curve in this area and we feel it is our responsibility to rectify this. We need to be training surgical leaders who are women and underrepresented minorities.''
Russell Dean, executive director of the Academy of Medicine, agrees there is a shortage of minority physicians. He said the academy helped get some black physicians reinstated on insurance panels after they were dropped during cost-cutting efforts in the late 1990s.
But Dean said the academy's recent focus has been on the overall physician-reimbursement climate affecting all physicians in the area, and not on difficulties faced by any particular racial or ethnic group of doctors.
UC has launched several programs aimed at high school and college students in an effort to increase the number of minorities in the science pipeline that eventually leads to medical school. The Department of Surgery is recruiting minority students to apply for surgical training and is hoping to host the Black Academic Surgeons' annual meeting in 2006.
At present, UC's four medical-school classes of 621 students include 43 blacks, or 6.9 percent. Also included: four students of Puerto Rican heritage, three other Hispanic students, two Native Americans and one Mexican. The medical school's 80 Asian-American students are not considered underrepresented minorities.
UC, along with Ohio's six other medical schools and its lone osteopathic school, is competing for ''a small and shrinking pool of (African-American) applicants,'' Davis said.
Fewer than 80 underrepresented minority students from Ohio applied to Ohio's medical schools last fall, he said, with 11 enrolling at UC.
At the University of Ken tucky, the number of black medical students has been even smaller. In 2000, 34 of UK's 701 medical students (4.8 percent) were African-American.
Nationally, 7.1 percent (1,178) of the 16,365 students entering medical school last fall were African-American, according to the Association of Medical Colleges.
Of the nation's physicians, only 2.5 percent are black, according to the American Medical Association's Minority Affairs Consortium. A recent study by the American College of Surgeons found that 4.7 percent of graduating surgical residents are black and 4.5 percent are Hispanic.
''There's a dearth of minority physicians around in general,'' said Dr. William Silen, dean for faculty development and diversity at Harvard University Medical School, who spoke recently to UC surgeons, residents and students.
Many more are needed, he said, because, ''minority patients are taken care of in large part by minority physicians.''
Minority physicians also are likely to practice ''culturally competent medicine,'' which means they are attuned to the subtleties and mores of minority patients, Davis said.
A study released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund of New York said Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans are more likely than whites to feel they are treated disrespectfully when they seek health care and to experience more prob lems in communicating with doctors.
Increasing the pipeline of qualified students is critical, experts say. But recent legal attacks on affirmative action have made that more difficult.
Reverse-discrimination law suits in California, Texas and Michigan have sent a chill through affirmative action ef forts at universities nation wide, Davis said.
In the states that eliminated affirmative action in the late 1990s, the number of minorities accepted by medical schools immediately plunged 27 percent.
''Nobody talks about how they try to accomplish diversi ty for fear of being pulled into court,'' Davis said. ''You will find that with virtually every school in the country."
This publication and others have been heavily discussed as the number of Latino, African-American and Native American physicians has been shrinking. Next month, the Office of Diversity at the University of Virginia will be sponsoring a workshop for minority physicians in order to encourage them to remain in the Charlottesville area for practice and to seek academic medical careers.
And yet another article this time fromt The Milwaukee Free Press:
Black doctors group to celebrate 75 yrs of community service
When Wisconsinites (especially) think of the word “cream,” they immediately think of the “cream of the crop,” the very best, straight off the top. This word also brings to mind the creamy foam at the top of a just-poured beer made by one of Milwaukee’s many breweries populating the city years ago.
You don’t, however, associate the word with a brick.
It doesn’t sound very romantic-unless you’re describing the city in the early part of the 20th century when many of the buildings were constructed with cream-colored bricks. This type of brick earned Milwaukee one of its early nicknames, "Cream City."
Though “cream brick” sounds rather…well, blah, it’s nonetheless appropriate given this unique brick’s strength, beauty and ability to weather any storm.
Perhaps it’s the brick’s aforementioned attributes (it’s still prized and used by many builders today in rehabbing old homes and commercial structures) that inspired a group of Black physicians in 1927 to name their newly formed organization the Cream City Medical Society (CCMS).
Like the brick, the organization has weathered its share of storms in Milwaukee, acting as a beacon of support and camaraderie for Black physicians practicing medicine in the face of prejudice and discrimination.
On Saturday, July 20, the organization will celebrate 75 years of casting a light in the storm with a gala event at the Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
“The most important thing about the gala event is that it honors our history and recognizes African American physicians who came before us and who had the vision to start and support an organization such as ours,” said Dr. Rene Settle Robinson, president of CCMS.
“African American physicians have a unique ability to treat African American people because of community, cultural and life experiences,” Dr. Robinson said. "For that reason, the community is better served by the fact that we are here."
In explaining the significance of an organization for Black doctors, Dr. Robinson said the CCMS gives voice to and addresses issues that uniquely affect African American physicians and medical students.
"For example, what are the obstacles of gaining admission to medical school? We address and eliminate the problem. "What are the obstacles to graduating from medical school? What are the obstacles to teaching at a medical school? We address and eliminate those problems.
“Why are students in medical training not comfortable giving voice to their concerns? It’s probably because there are so few Black medical students and these students are aware of the tremendous need (for physicians) in the community. They say to themselves, ‘If I speak up, I’ll be put out.’” They feel vulnerable.
"We can speak up and address the issues without that student becoming vulnerable."
Many of the city’s African American physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other medical specialists have maintained membership in Cream City Medical Society through the years.
The CCMS is also a member of the National Medical Association (NMA), the oldest and largest professional, educational and scientific organization representing the interests of more than 25,000 African American physicians.
The president of the National Medical Association, Dr. Lucille Norville-Perez, will be the keynote speaker at the anniversary gala. Dr. Norville-Perez is the seventh woman to lead the national organization.
She is also associate director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) at the Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Norville-Perez’s appearance at the CCMS anniversary celebration will mark the first time the President of the NMA has been its keynote speaker at this event.
Member doctors of the CCMS, many of whom are (or were during their careers) well-known and respected in the community for their expertise and philanthropy, made great contributions to the organization, especially to its scholarship fund growth.
Several years ago, the organization endowed a scholarship fund to assist African American students at the Medical College of Wisconsin called the Terrence N. Thomas Scholarship Fund. Thomas is the late son of Patricia O’Flynn Pattillo, Publisher of the Milwaukee Community Journal.
That fund is now more than $147,000 strong. More than $100,000 of that money came from past scholarship fundraisers that Cream City sponsors each July.
The fund is the largest single endowed scholarship fund for African American physicians built by an African American medical organization in the country.
“The scholarship fund is a powerful way of encouraging young people to pursue a medical career who otherwise might not have imagined it as an achievable goal,” emphasized Dr. Robinson.
"Many have not even met an African American physician until they were grown. It (the scholarship) shows young people they can achieve.
Dr. Robinson said the scholarship helps Black medical students purchase a much needed medical book, or qualify for an admission test with a pre-test course, complete an application to a school of higher learning and pay the fee that goes with that application.
The organization not only helps Black medical students get into and through medical school; it also encourages and supports them after they graduate.
The CCMS president said the organization now wants to shift gears and develop a “Legacy Scholarship Fund.” Through this fund the organization hopes to give more direct help pipeline for students headed toward medical school.
"We’re going to give scholarships to grade school, high school, and college graduates and post college graduate students who want to go into the direction of becoming physicians."
The CCMS will be giving out the first of those scholarships during the anniversary fete.
Entertainment will be provided by a local musical group called “Nubii.” The group’s lead singer is a Black Milwaukee female physician, Dr. Gloria Jackson.
For more information about the Cream City Medical Society, its scholarship fund or its anniversary celebration, contact Dr. Rene Settle Robinson, 732-6582, or Dr. Cheryl Martin, 219-7483.
Here is a source of scholarship money for pre-med and medical students in the Milwaukee area from this branch of the National Medical Association (NMA) the parent organization of the Student National Medical Association or SNMA.
I just want to give Nat a Nat-style post. You know how Nat likes to post to follow up with something by saying, “I wholeheartedly endorse the thing that so-and-so just posted because at Howard we liked to…”? Well, at my school, I’ve been really impressed with SNMA; much more so, frankly than the AMA student chapter; and although I think AMSA is a great organization it happens that our local SNMA group is the best of the three local versions. Why? Basically, it boils down to having a strong sense of purpose. I also want to reiterate Nat’s point that membership is open to all–not just students of color or African American students. And I think that working within SNMA is a great opportunity to work on many issues of importance.
Because I’m strongly committed to a particular issue–HIV/AIDS–I’m working mainly as part of a student AIDS group; but for me, finding ways of our group working together with SNMA, which also works on HIV/AIDS, is a big priority. So, even if you’re not an active SNMA member, I recommend keeping track of what they’re up to in your school.