Seton Hall University

Health Disparities in the Latinx Community and a Medical Student Panel

pre-advisingOn Wednesday, September 20, 2023, the Seton Hall University’s Pre-Professional Advising Center hosted an event in collaboration with Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine on Health Disparities in the Latinx community. The P-PAC aims to develop culturally responsive, affirming, and inclusive future health care providers. The goal of the event was to start a conversation about the importance of diversity in medicine and how the lack of awareness and representation is impacting our Latinx communities and patients. This event was open to all future healthcare providers, as its possible that one day all professionals will come across a Latino or Hispanic patient. 

The event was strategically scheduled during National Hispanic Heritage Month, a month where we celebrate the Hispanic culture and recognize the significant contributions the Hispanic/Latino Americans have made in the US. The event was also days before National Physicians Day, October 1, 2023. National Physicians Day has been created to spread awareness of the need for more Latino doctors nationally. 

Latinx community LectureThe guest speaker for the event was SHU Alumna Dr. Vera-Connolly. During her presentation Dr. Vera-Conolly shared with students about the reality of representation within the physician workforce. Only 6% of physicians in the US are Hispanic/Latino when 19% of the US population is now Hispanic. This is an alarming truth as students, patients, families, and the community need to see themselves reflected in the health professions and in medicine. Growing understanding and awareness of the needs of a population can lead to better doctor patient communication, higher patient satisfaction and better health outcomes. Her presentation discussed health concerns, inequalities, and language barriers within the community. Dr. Vera-Connolly also gave her recommendations on how future healthcare professionals can relate, connect, and better serve the population regardless of their backgrounds. Students were able to see the need for representation and be part of the conversation to bring about positive change in the medical field. 

Dr. Vera-Connolly attended Seton Hall University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and received her bachelor's in science degree. She received her medical degree from St George’s University School of Medicine and completed her Family Medicine residency at Hackensack Mountainside Family Medicine. Dr. Vera- Connolly is a native of Peru, she moved to NJ with her family as a child, and calls NJ her home. She currently serves as a Clinical Skills facilitator to first year medical students at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. Students were able to hear firsthand from Dr. Vera- Conolly as she shared about her journey towards becoming the first doctor in her family, the challenges she faced along the way and how she overcame them. 

pre-advising centerFollowing Dr. Vera-Conolly’s presentation, the audience also heard from a panel of medical students from the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine's Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA). During the Q&A session, the panelists Boris Salazar M1, Michael Zakhary M1, Kaitlynn Chalijub M2 and Gabriel Salazar M2 shared their challenges, experiences, and tips surrounding their journey into medical school. Students asked the panelists questions on a wide range of topics such as MCAT preparation, what makes an applicant unique, and what inspired the panelists to become doctors. This gave our pre-health/ pre-med students the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, gain insight from Dr. Vera- Conolly and current medical students.

Following the Q&A with the panel – the audience had an opportunity to network and connect with the medical students individually. Chantal Vergara, Director of the PPAC, shared “Encouraging connections and building a network for our pre-health students is important as we develop our diverse medical school applicants, especially if they may not know or have any family members in medicine or the health professions. Students need to be connected with and have the opportunity to see more doctors and medical students that look like them or come from similar backgrounds succeeding in medicine to know that they too can do it!” 

The Pre-Professional Advising Center is here to support students as they explore, prepare and apply to health professional schools. Are you a Pre-Health student? Consider joining the Pre- Professional Advising Center listserv to receive recent news, upcoming events, and opportunities. You can also find us on ENGAGE and COMPASS to make your 1:1 Advising Appointment. Here’s a list of upcoming events>>

- The PPAC is now located in Schwartz Suite 200! See you at the PPAC soon!  

Categories: Health and Medicine

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