Matt Schorr
February 6, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Student National Medical Association (SNMA), founded in 1964 as a sub-division of the National Medical Association (NMA), strives to address the needs of underserved individuals and communities throughout America. Its goals include serving as a credible source of information, encouraging the development of minority faculty and eradicating health practices that compromise quality education to minorities.

On Sunday, January 20, 2019, more than 110 students and faculty from both Meharry Medical College (MMC) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) continued that tradition with a leadership conference held at the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) that focused on leadership and health advocacy.

 

National Leadership Institutes

“The SNMA hosts quarterly meetings called National Leadership Institutes,” VUMC medical student Petria Thompson explained. “They bring together national leaders, and both medical and pre-medical students from all across the country.”

The January meeting – titled “Leadership Beyond the Stethoscope” – focused on interdisciplinary leadership training and organizational advancement.

William C. Snowden, federal trial attorney and founder of the Juror Project, delivered the keynote address “Using Your Leadership for Social Justice.” His and the Project’s primary goal, Thompson noted, is increasing diversity on jury panels.

 

Addressing Health Disparities

Another speaker, Joia Crear-Perry, MD, FACOG, discussed “Leading as an Executive: Addressing Health Disparities and Racism.”

“What I really liked about her talk was that she works with the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC),” Thompson recalled. “She focused a lot of her time talking about black maternal and infant mortality, and the advocacy she does within that space.”

Cear-Perry and the NBEC work to reduce black maternal and infant mortality through research, family-centered collaboration and advocacy.

 

‘An honor to host’

“A lot of people left the conference feeling inspired and uplifted,” Thompson said. “I gained a lot of insight on how to be an effective leader.”

Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance Program Manager Pilar Prather, M.Ed, who helped organize the conference, agreed.  “It was an honor to host SNMA in Nashville and see medical students come together to discuss the future of healthcare,” she said.

 

About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.