More than 100 medical school students from across the Washington, D.C., region and beyond will descend upon the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) on Dec. 1–2 to “find their seat at the table.”
GW is host to the 2017 Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Regional Medical Education Conference. SNMA works to support minority medical students, as well as to assist underserved communities and increase the number of clinically excellent and socially conscious physicians.
This year’s Region 6 Medical Education Conference aims to help accelerate the career opportunities of both pre-medical and medical students who identify as minorities, said second-year MD student Tirsit Makonnen, who serves as the SNMA GW Chapter president. There are 11 medical schools in the region, which include Georgetown, Howard, Johns Hopkins, and Virginia Tech, among others. The conference rotates to a different school each year, making hosting the event a once-in-a-decade opportunity, Makonnen said.
Some of the conference’s events at GW will focus on advancing career opportunities for students, including teaching pre-medical students how to ace the MCATS, a session on the STEP 1 exam, and workshops that will teach skills including use of ultrasounds and inserting IUDs.
In addition, there also will be a session on mental health; opening remarks from Yolanda Haywood, MD, RESD ’87, BA ’81, associate dean for diversity, inclusion, and student affairs and associate professor of emergency medicine at SMHS; and a networking lunch and exhibitor fair featuring medical schools, residency programs, and test preparation agencies.
Haywood, Lorenzo Norris, MD, assistant dean for student affairs and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SMHS, and Chavon Onumah, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at GW, also will be part of conference sessions.
The theme of the weekend is “A seat at the table: Maximizing your potential as a student, advocate, and healer. Doing what you have to do to be where you want to be.” Makonnen explained that the theme stems from the feeling of sitting at tables in medical school and discussing cases and ideas with classmates. “It’s a sense of ‘At this table … where do we sit? What is our position? What do we bring to the table? What can we take back to our communities?’ ”
Those questions also will be part of the conference’s closing session, a discussion that all attendees are invited to participate in.
Having the conference at GW this year, Makonnen said, is “an honor and a privilege.”
“It’s a great opportunity because I do feel at GW that we work hard in conjunction with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to really advocate on behalf of minorities. … It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase how far we’ve come [as a medical school] to our region,” she said.
At the end of the conference as attendees head back to their medical schools, Makonnen wants them to think one thing: “I have a seat at the table, and I know what I am going to do with my seat.”