Four second-year medical students from the Texas A&M College of Medicine attended the third-annual policy summit organized by the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA). The summit was hosted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) in their national headquarters located in Washington D.C.. Mariam Mehrafza, Mohammad Murtuza, Adriana Ocon and Luis Seija attended the summit educated on how to advance the Latino community through health advocacy and shaping legislation.
The policy summit included lectures on health disparities within the Latino community, which were given by physicians and other health care professionals. Attendants were introduced to some of the health issues facing the Latino population from both a clinical and public health perspective. In addition, they were exposed to the barriers and difficulties of addressing these issues at the socioeconomic and political levels.
Following lectures, students broke out into three tracks focusing on different areas. The tracks consisted of four 35-minute small group sessions pertaining to relevant topics within the selected track. Seija attended the Leadership and Academia track, which focused on providing tools for students to advocate within academia, especially in regards to the creation of a more diverse workforce, more representative of the patients being served. Meanwhile, Mehrafza, Murtuza and Ocon attended the Health Policy track. This track focused on how the mobilization of groups could compel policy change. This track also provided a framework for writing an effective resolution which could be passed into the official policy of an organization such as the LMSA. The final day of the policy summit was dedicated to the LMSA Congress of Delegates, a structured meeting where resolutions were discussed and either passed or rejected by regional LMSA leaders.
In addition to the didactic components of the policy summit, students were also afforded ample opportunities to network with other students and professionals throughout the conference. They met students from a diverse range of medical schools from across the country and made many new connections with students motivated to advocate for the Latino community through health policy. Students also met with leaders in many organizations ranging from the CDC to local and state health departments to learn more about their unique perspectives and experiences in addressing health disparities.
The group of A&M students plan to share their experiences with classmates, especially those who express an interest in health policy and working for the Latino community. They plan to talk about the summit as part of a scheduled LMSA meeting to introduce the topic of health policy, as well as discuss the resolution writing process and techniques to mobilize individuals to create effective policies. The group encourages any interested students to become actively involved in health policy, whether it be through local efforts through the TMA or through attending the next annual policy summit hosted by LMSA.