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Spotlight on Students

SNMA members take time to read to students last November at Franklin Elementary School in Little Rock. 

Student National Medical Association

Medical students active in the UAMS chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) are making time in their demanding schedules for activities that give back to and benefit the local community.

Fall semester activities in which SNMA members participated included a Salvation Army block party to feed the homeless, a food drive sponsored by the Arkansas Food Bank Network, two health fairs, and the Race for the Cure.

On November 15, SNMA members read to students in several classes at the Franklin Communications Technology Elementary School on South Harrison Street in Little Rock. Their participation coincided with the Little Rock School District’s Volunteers in Public Schools Jane Mendel Reading Day.

“I’m very excited that we’re taking part in this event,” said Rodrick Johnson, second-year medical student and vice president of SNMA. “Education is extremely important to me and the SNMA family. Anything we can do to address the needs of our community, we will.  It’s my hope that we can inspire kids to read more and inspire some of them to become future health care professionals. We want to make reading fun. Also, it’ll give many students the opportunity to meet minority medical students for the first time.”

At Christmas, SNMA members helped the Salvation Army distribute toys to children, and in January, they’ll be teaching second-graders first aid at Franklin Elementary here in Little Rock. In March, the organization will take part in the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program, which is an event designed to expose high school students to health professions and provide guidance in their pursuit of a career in health care. About 60 high school students from surrounding schools will come to UAMS and participate in the program. 

“SNMA hopes to provide encouragement and inspiration that will drive young people to fulfill their goals and dreams,” Johnson said.

The SNMA has more than 45 members this year. Although its purpose is to serve the needs and concerns of medical students of color, it is open to individuals of all races and ethnicities.

The SNMA is the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organization of its kind. It was founded in 1964 by medical students from Howard University School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, the membership includes more than 5,000 medical students, pre-medical students, residents and physicians.

The UAMS chapter, formally known as the Edith Irby Jones Chapter of the Student National Medical Association, was started in 1971. The founding members decided to name the chapter after Dr. Jones, who in 1948 was the first African American admitted to, and in 1952 graduating, from UAMS. In 1985, Dr. Jones became the first female president of the National Medical Association.
~ Nick Pettus, program coordinator, and Nancy Dockter, diversity process coordinator, CDA

Minority Students in Global Health

Vera Tate, MS

Vera Tate, MS
Student – College of Medicine, M4
Member, past president (2009-10) – Student National Medical Association
Graduate – University of Central Arkansas, MS and BS in biology
Hometown – McGehee, Arkansas

Vera Tate will spend one month this semester on an internal medicine rotation at Mseleni Hospital in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, which borders Mozambique. It is a 184-bed hospital that serves 90,000 rural people. As a part of her rotation she will assist in managing medical wards, join local physician on their visits to community clinics, and accompany the mobile team on trips to rural communities.

LaShundra N. Watson, MS
Student – College of Medicine, M4
Member – Student National Medical Association
Graduate – UAMS, MS in Neurobiology and Developmental Science and BS in Medical Technology; University of Central Arkansas, BS in Biology
Hometown – Texarkana, Arkansas

LaShundra N. Watson, MS

Through the National Medical Fellowship (NMF) and the GE Medical Scholars Program, LaShundra Watson was awarded an international externship in Ghana, where she will complete a two-month elective this spring focusing on critical regional health care needs and improving patient care for medically underserved communities. She and her fellow 2012 Ghana scholars, along with NMF volunteer surgeons, will work with local physicians throughout district hospitals and surrounding villages to provide primary care and obstetrical/gynecological clinics as well as aid in the surgical repair and post-operative management of women with vesico-vaginal fistulas (VVF). Watson was one of eight outstanding 4th-year medical students selected from across the United States as a 2012 GE/NMF Ghana Scholar.
~ Vivian Flowers, director of recruitment and retention, CDA